Film on Friday; The Relaunch

Golly! I haven't had a regular system (again!) for ages. Work, it's the bane of the working classes.
Anyhoo, I'm working in an office with a computer and plenty of time between clients to be able to spend some time doing stuff for me. I'm only paid part time at the moment and working full time, so we came to an agreement; rather than me feel ill used, I could work on a side hustle. Don't worry, Angel Jem's City Cottage is not my side hustle, but my retreat. My side hustle is or will be a new blog called How to Hygge The British Way. It'll be a more polished, monetised, affiliate linked blog when it's up and running; and it's specifically about trying to get a lot more hygge and Danish style living into my life. I know I like a lot of Danish things and I may be the only person who looks at the 10th circle of hell that is Ikea with pleasure, so why not spend a year of my life living Danishly... in Britain. Is it possible? Can we really hygge the life out of Life? I don't know! But I'm going to try.

But back to today. Film on Friday. After all this time. Hello, how are you all? I have watched loads of movies and never ever ever posted about them. Well, I am doing now. Today's film is an oldie but a goody from the mid nineties. No surprise, it's about lawyers and was first published on the firm blog in a slightly different form. You can read that review at Peter Kneale Solicitor's review of A Time To Kill.

When John Grisham published his first book, A Time to Kill, in 1988 he was working 60 or 70 hour weeks as a criminal and personal injury lawyer in Mississippi. He was inspired to write his first book after witnessing the testimony of a twelve-year old rape victim and wondering what would have happened if her father had set out to murder her attackers in revenge. He wrote before work and during lunchtimes and, after several rejections, A Time to Kill was published in the USA in 1988 and in the UK a year later. His second book, The Firm, set him on the path to global stardom, being made into a film with Tom Cruise. I love The Firm, but I'll talk about that another day.

Jake Brigance is a 32 year old lawyer, happily married with a 4 year old daughter and a beautiful old house he is fixing up. At the start of the story he is a real, down to earth character, a lawyer who mixes with the ordinary folk, rather than seeking out and sticking with high-falutin' professionals. I think there's a lot of John Grisham in him, since this character, the accessible and human lawyer who has great sympathy with his fellow man, surfaces again and again and again.

When the young black girl is raped by white supremacists and her father seeks out Jake to ask if there would be any chance of the men getting off due to the area they live in, Jake knows his first duty is to warn the father, Carl Lee, not to do anything stupid, although his own, instinctive response would be to go after them himself. When Carl Lee does shoot them outside the court house, Jake knows he has to represent him. The film is about how making that decision puts Jake and his family in real trouble.

Jake faces setback after setback, with warnings and towns people refusing to talk to him, attacks on his car and dog and the burning down of his home. His family have to move out, and he has to work on through all the pressure.

The characters in the film are interesting, and there are a host of good actors in it. Kevin Spacey in an early film role as the District Attorney stands out as one, but there are many more.

Jake's silent partner, Lucius Willbanks is a disbarred alcoholic lawyer who could have done so much better.... but never found the strength to deny the bottle long enough. He's played by Donald Sutherland, who has to be one of my favourite actors. No matter if the film is bad, he always seems to pull out a scene stealing performance (see Pride and Prejudice 2005 to see what I mean!)

Samuel L Jackson as the accused, Carl Lee, is another barnstorming actor. He makes Carl Lee's actions perfectly understandable and even condonable given the acts committed on his daughter.

Matthew McConaughey's nickname is Mr Mahogany, but he is far from wooden here.

I won't spoil the story by giving out the ending. The book is really good, and one I like to listen to on Audible over and over. A Time to Kill, the film, made in 1996 and directed by Joel Schumacher, is an enjoyable watch. Starring Samuel L Jackson as Carl Lee and Matthew McConaughey as Jake, it shows the tensions and plot twists well. I expect you can actually guess the ending anyway. The plot has lots to say about racial tension, about injustices due to race, and about how some parts of America had (have?) massive problems with how different races are kept apart even without official apartheid and can't seem to just get along. It got a fair degree of discussion going in our house, about what we would do in any situation like this, and whether revenge is better than justice, or should The Law be trusted to be fair.

Jake makes an interesting hero for a lawyer because he is so patently not the city slicker, sharp suited lawyer type, not out to make money or a name for himself, and not out to be top dog in a large firm. He works with the small people of the town, and is happy to live a small life. His aim is to get by, without making so much that he looks grand and without making so little that he can't survive. He has a great affinity for the other inhabitants of town, and does what he can to help them out. In many ways he is the archetypal small town lawyer that sits at the side of other crime novels while the heroes go about their business, but moved to centre stage and kept as the focus. It's the only Grisham (I think) to have a central character that he re-introduces in a second novel, Sycamore Row, set 3 years later although surprisingly written 25 years later.

Click here to  read Den of Geeks' review of A Time to Kill, the movie.
The DVD of A Time To Kill is available from Amazon if you click on the name.
The paperback is available at most bookstores  and a Kindle version is available from Amazon here;


  1. I've seen the film but I didn't realise it was based on a John Grisham novel. I've never read any of his books but my dad must have read just about every book he's written. As for Ikea, I can count on the fingers I have on one hand the number of times I've been and still have fingers spare.

    1. Love it. I think since the first one opened in Warrington my houses have been 50% Ikea, 50% hand-me-downs and charity.
      And John Grisham is a must-read because of Peter's job. I like most of them, although sometimes they get a bit samey.

  2. I've only read a couple of Grishams, should probably read more as I did enjoy them. I like an amble round Ikea, though there isn't one nearby, I think we've had quite a bit from them over the years xx

    1. With Peter being a lawyer, we have every Grisham going. I enjoy them, mostly, on audible books as I clean or declutter.

  3. I didn't know he was a real life lawyer. This movie sounds like just my cup of tea.
    I am very much looking forward to your new blog. We need more hygge.
    Lisa x

    1. Thank you, Hygge is massive at the moment, but I don't like the impression that we can only hygge if our home is Danish enough or our life is stylish. That's so not hygge.

  4. A side hustle, I think I need to get one myself, Jo. I didn't know John Grisham was a lawyer either.


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