The American Film Company
April 15, 2011
The Conspirator tells the story of the trials of those believed to be involved in the conspiracy to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln, focusing particularly on the trial of Mary Surratt. I found her story to be very interesting as the case presented against her was almost entirely circumstantial while the cases of the others involved were sounder. Her trial actually made me quite angry from the perspective of a student of criminal justice because so many rules were violated in her case. We also follow Frederick Aiken, who turned out to be a member of Surratt’s defense team. One of the things that I found interesting after reviewing The American Film Company’s website is that there is not a lot of information known about Aiken. One thing I would have wished for more of would be the actual plot and carrying out of the assassination and capture of John Wilkes Booth. It only occupied about the first 10 minutes of the film and left me wanting for more. Otherwise, the plot and pacing of the story were fairly well done.
For the most part, I thought that this film was very well cast. There were several marquee names and others B list names that I recognized, among them: James McAvoy (as Frederick Aiken), Robin Wright (as Mary Surratt), Evan Rachel Wood (as Anna Surratt), Justin Long (as Nicholas Baker), Alexis Bledel (as Sarah Weston), Norman Reedus (as Lewis Payne) and Jonathan Groff (as Louis Weichmann). I thought that Robin Wright was very impressive as Mary Surratt – the right amount of strength and fear. On the other hand, I thought that Justin Long looked very out of place in the time period. He has a very distinctive look and he looked like a modern day man dressed in the costume of the 1860’s. It immediately didn’t work for me.
The setting and costumes were beautifully rendered. You got a very sound feel for the period and the upheaval caused by Lincoln’s assassination.
I am quite impressed with this early outing by The American Film Company and look forward to the other films they have in the pipeline. You can read more about this film at the AFC website.
Check out this trailer:
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