Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"25th Hour" comments by Andy

"25th Hour" was a very poignant film for me and what I do for actually work. I have several times in my career spoken with Defendants shortly before they were to begin serving long sentences. In fact, only a month ago, I represented a gentleman who made some pretty serious mistakes and was set for sentencing. He was out on bail and he and I spoke at length the day before he was to be sentenced to at least six years in prison, possibly ten or more. It was very interesting, surreal, and sad to hear him describe his plans that evening - taking the family and kids to the portrait studio, dinner, and then spending some time with his wife. They also went out for breakfast and fun the following morning. And then at some point that morning, the Judge sentenced him, he hugged his wife, and officers took him to prison. He was very nice guy who made some awful mistakes, and his life changed dramatically one day.

I agree very much with Jason that the one short-coming of the film was that because of the bizarre final hours of Norton's character, we as the audience were only engaged in his story, and we did not fully internalize his struggle.

It's a very disturbing idea to think about going to prison for a long time. I would guess that most parents have disturbing thoughts all the time wondering what their child's life would be like without them (if they died or something), but going to prison is sort a whole new ball of wax. In prison, you get to experience the suffering of those who count on you and whom you have let down. You get to deal with the worry that your spouse is going to divorce you and move on, and you get to know all of the events in your children's lives that you are missing. You get to worry about being sodomized repeatedly because you are an easy target, and you get to worry that there's nobody out there to protect your family.

As for the film, it was a bit of a contrived story, obviously, but I thought it was well done. Jason, I think that maybe the disturbing scene that Dave Chen was referring to was the scene where Norton's character asks his friend to beat the living hell out of him. If so, I agree. It was beautifully disturbing, and quite powerful. Although I must say, don't have your friend punch you in the head while your head is already on the pavement. Bad idea.

-comments by Andy

1 comment:

Jason Pyles, Movie Critic said...


That picture you painted when you described your client's last hours with his family was powerful and vivid. It reminded me of my one experience with this (which I've mentioned on this blog before), when I was a court reporter and saw a basically good young man get sentenced to somewhere between 8 to 15 years. He wept like a newborn baby as he hugged and squeezed his children. It was heartbreaking, despite the crime for which he was convicted. I still think of him and wonder how he's doing. He still has several years left.