The Advocate. Interesting story about when Europe still prosecuted animals for crimes committed. Colin Firth stars as the poor lawyer assigned to represent the animals… Odd little flick. Good times.
Right off the bat, I almost didn’t watch this film because I couldn’t find it. Turns out Jesse gave me the North American release title, but two decades on the only sources I could find were under the original British title: The Hour of the Pig. I don’t much like either title. But back to the review.
This movie starts slowly, and never really picks up. Until about three-quarters of the way through I was actually worried that I wouldn’t even have anything interesting to say about it. On the surface, it’s a pretty standard early 90s period drama. Colin Firth does a fine job of reciting his lines, the set is sufficiently gritty, and there is a nice cross-section of characters – but the narrative doesn’t really grab, or give the viewer anything particularly interesting to fixate on. If it wasn’t for the odd concept of a pig being put on trial, I might have lost interest entirely.
But by the time the credits were rolling I’d realized that there is actually a subtle undercurrent that makes the film a sort of minimalist black comedy. And it has a message: Humanity is completely absurd.
With hindsight, I realize that I should have noticed the ridiculousness right away: it’s a film set in 15th-century France full of English actors, speaking with English accidents. But it actually took a fantastically impassioned speech by Donald Pleasence‘s character for me to notice that the film was trying to portray just how silly society is. We try so hard to be ‘civilized’ and ‘logical’ and adhered to ideas of ‘reason’; yet we do idiotic things like accuse strangers of witchcraft and pretend that animals can commit murder.
I like the message, and I like the way that it sneaks up. But overall I still can’t say that The Hour of the Pig (or The Advocate, if you like) is a good movie – because it isn’t: nice idea, poor execution (no pun intended). Besides, the role of the unjustly accused pig obviously should have been a portrayed by goat.