A retired FBI agent with psychological gifts is assigned to help track down "The Tooth Fairy", a mysterious serial killer. Aiding him is imprisoned forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter.
When a young man, Aaron, is charged with the horrific murder of Archbishop Rushman, hot-shot Chicago lawyer Martin Vail takes on his defense at no charge. Aaron was a homeless street kid before he was taken in by the Archbishop. He's shy and speaks with a stammer. Vail is convinced that Aaron is innocent but after discovering a video that shows Aaron may have had good reason to want the Archbishop dead, he begins to question that conclusion. When Aaron lashes out at the psychologist examining him another personality, Roy, is revealed. With the trial already underway, Vail cannot change Aaron plea and so has to find a way to introduce his client's condition. Aaron has something of a surprise for him as well.Written by
Both Wil Wheaton and Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the part of Aaron Stampler. Wheaton turned down the role because he did not want to put off his acting school, and when his manager urged him to take the role anyway, he told him, "It is like Luke Skywalker when Yoda told him not to go and save his friends, but to stay on Dagobah and learn to be a Jedi instead. Luke didn't listen to him and that's why he never became a true Jedi master." Later, Wheaton regretted turning this role down, saying that this was a crucial factor why his career never got to be a successful one. See more »
(at around 1h 14 mins) When Aaron pushes Martin Vail against the wall in prison you can see that the wall bends, showing that the wall wasn't made out of bricks or any other hard material. See more »
[while getting dressed as Naomi helps him]
On my first day of law school, my professor says two things. First was: from this day forward, when your mother tells you she loves you, get a second opinion.
If you want justice, go to a whorehouse. If you wanna get fucked, go to court.
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The birth of a star and the resurrection of another
It's not often that viewers get a chance to watch a star being born - that a talented unknown actor's performance that is so spectacular it leads to the A-list in one role is rare: Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise to name a recent few. But Edward Norton's turn as the "defendant/victim" in Primal Fear is one of those "Wow" moments that leaves the audience salivating for his next performance. In this feature debut, Norton outdistances his role, as does Richard Gere, in a resurrection no less impressive than Norton's star-making turn. Heretofore, Gere has specialized in assorted intelligent professional cad roles. Here, he gets a chance to inhabit one that not only wears his dubious character on his sleeve, but wears it, drives it, drinks it... revels in it. Yeah, sure somewhere there's a heart of gold, but like his client, the layers on top serve him better, and the heart of gold is tarnished. Gere is at his peak, comfortably, cheerfully inhabiting the role.
Laura Linney deserves extra credit for often being the ice-queen foil which propels the two male characters' development; her own character is rather one- dimensional, but she herself squeezes as much dazzle as she can from it. Even though everyone else obviously falls for whatever Gere's Vail purrs into their ears, it's merely enough time for Linney's Janet to get a drag on her ubiquitous cigarette; another step in what will (hopefully) someday be film's love affair with her. Wasted, sadly, are fine character actors like John Mahoney, Steven Bauer, Maura Tierney & Andre Braugher who could have lit up the screen had they not been handed scripts with generic character stereotypes.
See it to watch the ascension of Norton and Gere.
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