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Few films have tackled the subject of Satan so directly and so outrageously as this. The Devil’s Advocate is a very intriguing film that builds and builds until it explodes with a shocking crescendo. A film that sets out to be about Satan himself needs to do just what this film does – be seductive and inviting – build up slowly to the climax. This film is a success because of it’s use spot on pacing, a unique script, and it’s intense performances – from Al Pacino and Charlize Theron specifically. I want to break down each one of these things and ultimately encourage you to see this film if you haven’t already.
We start things off with a “grabber” type of scene that makes the audience perk up and pay attention which is smart and that scene does actually come back into play later on. My attention was not only grabbed by the opening but it was held as The Devil’s Advocate went along. There isn’t much “wasted space” here. Almost every single scene has a purpose and carries a certain level of importance. I referred to the script as “unique” and I did so because I really don’t know of another film that has a script like this one.
This kind of story is fresh and interesting and the way it’s told is also fresh and interesting. The characters are written so well, Pacino’s especially. Pacino’s character is introduced as a seemingly normal albeit very arrogant/confident boss but of course over time we see there’s more there. But thanks to the writing, his character isn’t treated as a total looney toon villain. He is written as a human being and bits of his deviant side are revealed as time goes on. Theron’s character is also written with care and attention. She too is introduced to us as a normal person – a working wife of a successful lawyer but as the film goes on we see her struggling to adapt to this new location and lifestyle her and husband are thrust into.
She’s an adoring wife and is so excited for this new adventure her and husband have chosen to embark on…. until things start to go sideways. I really like how the script handles her characters arc… it’s chilling and very effective. The Devil’s Advocate knows just what to do with Reeves’s character as well and even though his progression isn’t nearly as off the rails as Theron’s, he’s written just as he should be: a fundamentally decent man who has become enchanted by the money and vanity associated with his line of work.
I think the entirety of The Devil’s Advocate is entertaining but the last half hour is especially great. The finale is filled to the brim with surprises, marvelously cinematic scenes, impactful dialogue, and impressive visuals. The last half of the film is where we start to really see the message and meaning of this story too. I love that this film isn’t simply a boo! type of thriller-horror, no it’s a detailed story with moral lessons. I’ve talked about how the script does well by all the characters involved but I also want to praise the individual performances given by this talented cast. Al Pacino is such a great talent and he proves that with his intense charismatic performance here. He’s able to be gleeful, calm and extremely intense and it all comes across as genuine, it never seems forced.
Charlize Theron, who’s one of my favorite actors, has such impressive range in this film, she goes from an optimistic young wife to a woman who’s perceived as mentally insane because of what she claims is happening. Her acting as she begins to slowly unravel is very impressive and comes across as effortless. Keanu Reeves, who hasn’t always impressed me – just watch him in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) to see what I mean, but I’m happy to say that he gives a decent performance here. He doesn’t make the same impression as Pacino or Theron but he gets the job done.
The final thing I want to cover is the use of sexuality and seduction in The Devil’s Advocate. I’m glad they used it the way they did because it fit right in and it’s used very well. It’s not there simply to be pornographic, it serves a purpose as far as the story goes. The only thing I’d say isn’t the best is the demonic morph faces that occur several times…. a bit hokey.
There isn’t a lot to complain about when it comes to The Devil’s Advocate. This is a very well written, impeccably performed, interesting film that’s sure to both entertain and intrigue.
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