The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (2023) Venice Film Festival 2023

September 3rd, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir/Wri: William Friedkin | US Drama 96′

William Friedkin’s final film, The Exorcist directer sadly died last month, turns out to be as compelling a court room drama as ever there was, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Herman Wouk.

Delivered with gusto by a cast of commanding actors, amongst them Jason Clarke (who recently flexed his verbal acuity as the prosecution council in Oppenheimer), this follows the court martial of U.S. Naval captain, Lieutenant Commander Philip Queeq who had showed signs of mental instability during a recent foray in the Middle Eastern waters, purportedly jeopardising the safety of his ship, and was relieved of his command by a First officer called Stephen Maryk (Jake Lacy).

Clarke is Greenwald, called in to defend Maryk despite a degree of reluctance and scepticism on his part. And his fears gradually gain ground as the trial proceeds, Greenwald questioning if the Caine were a true mutiny or simply the courageous acts of a group of sailors that could not trust their unstable leader.

This briskly paced affair moves along like ‘a bat out of hell’ as Friedkin intended, as we play judge and jury in the ethical and moral dilemma with some of the finest minds of the US Navy, played by Monica Raymund, Lance Reddick Elizabeth Anweis and Francois Battiste. ┬áThe Caine Mutiny may not look particularly exciting confined to its pristine interior setting and cast of dapper sailers but this richly thematic, chewy drama provides dynamite entertainment. And what a film to go out on.

Friedkin commented in the press blurb: ‘I intentionally chose to keep the issue of right and wrong as ambiguous as possible. I was consistently impressed with the level of expertise that our actors brought to their roles and I believe that these are some of the best performances I have ever seen’. And he should know. MT


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