Guilty as Sin

1993, R, 107 min. Directed by Sidney Lumet. Starring Rebecca De Mornay, Don Johnson, Stephen Lang, Jack Warden.

REVIEWED By Hollis Chacona, Fri., June 11, 1993

Imagine you were sitting around with a couple of friends one night and, just for fun, tried to come up with an idea for a new movie. And imagine someone said, “Hey, what if we took the Jagged Edge, reworked the story a little and replaced Glenn Close, Jeff Bridges and Robert Loggia with Rebecca De Mornay, Don Johnson and Jack Warden?” Your friend would never live it down, right? Which is why it is so hard to understand why you are planning your annual vacation to San Antonio and the L.A. players who came up with this nonsense are heading for St. Tropez. Guilty as Sin is a tired, silly piece of glitzy Hollywood hokum, and its genesis is as inexplicable as its characters' behaviors. Ruthless, unscrupulous, criminal attorney Jennifer Haines (DeMornay), obsessed with the (literally) orgasmic thrill of victory, takes on the seemingly futile challenge of defending suave, calculating black widower David Greenhill (Johnson). At first titillated by the menacing coyness of Greenhill's attentions, De Mornay's tough cookie crumbles like a Lorna Doone in a toddler's fist at the first sign that she, and not some anonymous innocent, may become the killer's next victim. She turns to her crusty but benign P.I. (Warden) to help her get the goods on her own client while she alternately simpers in the face of fear or sashays in the jurors' faces. (There's an extraordinary amount of posterior movement involved in Ms. Haines' cross-examinations.) Director Lumet disappoints once again in the arena of human drama, but the guy sure knows how to set, light and shoot a movie (or at least hire the right person to make him look good). We may giggle at Greenhill's overwrought battle with a turkey and tomato sandwich, but we revel in the cold sheen of the cavernous slate courthouse and some downright elegant camera work. But a bit of good technique can't make up for a two-hour battle of witlessness and the only real satisfaction to be gotten from Guilty as Sin is that all the characters get theirs in the end.

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More Sidney Lumet Films
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Both a crime thriller and family tragedy, this stunner from octogenarian Sidney Lumet stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke as brothers whose blood runs cold.

Marc Savlov, Nov. 9, 2007

Find Me Guilty
Like the criminal justice system it portrays, Find Me Guilty (starring Vin Diesel in the dramatic lead) ultimately works a great deal better than you might expect.

Marjorie Baumgarten, March 31, 2006

More by Hollis Chacona

July 14, 2000

Dill Scallion

Oct. 8, 1999


Guilty as Sin, Sidney Lumet, Rebecca De Mornay, Don Johnson, Stephen Lang, Jack Warden

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