- Actors: Renée Zellweger, Keanu Reeves, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Kenneth Choi, Sean Bridgers
- Director: Courtney Hunt
- Film Format: NTSC, Widescreen
- Language: English
- Region: Region A/1
- Rated: R
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Release Date: January 17, 2017
- Run Time: 93 minutes
The Whole Truth is the sophomore feature for director Courtney Hunt, whose first film (Frozen River) was made eight years ago, as well as featuring Renée Zellweger’s first screen performance in six years. Despite the long break for both director and co-star, The Whole Truth feels like a minor entry into a courtroom procedural television show with new stories every week. No amount of star power can save the film from a lackluster screenplay whose revelations don’t feel worth the time commitment of the film’s running time.
Keanu Reeves gives an intentionally stiff performance as Ramsey, the defense attorney at the center of a mysterious murder case involving one of his colleagues. Daniel Craig was originally signed on for this role, replaced by Reeves a mere four days before the start of production. This may be part of the reason why Reeves seems to be dialing in his performance, though he receives little help from the film’s script in terms of character development. Part of the problem with The Whole Truth is that it has tunnel vision with the narrative, never giving the audience enough reason to care about the courtroom results by never giving the audience a reason to care about the characters involved.
Ramsey is conveniently present during several of the flashbacks recalled during the trial, as a friend of the murder victim and defendant to the son accused of murdering him. Through these recollections of the past, we discover that fellow lawyer Boone (Jim Belushi) was an abusive husband to his wife (Zellweger) and an oppressive father to his son, Mike (Gabriel Basso). Mike is the one on trial for his father’s murder, though he refuses to talk to Ramsey, who is defending him. As more information is revealed about the case, it becomes clear that nobody is telling the entire truth (a.k.a. the whole truth), and Ramsey sets out to exploit the secrets of each witness to benefit his client.
Struggling lawyer Janelle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) joins the defense team as a way to make Mike appear more sympathetic, fighting to build back a career which was destroyed by poor personal choices that seem completely out of character. There is simply not enough time spent on backstory for any character development to have real significance on the storyline, and Janelle ends up feeling more like a prop in the narrative. None of the characters really exist beyond the courtroom mystery, making it difficult to be concerned with what happens to them.
The Blu-ray for The Whole Truth includes a Digital HD copy of the film. Drably shot, the high definition presentation is all but wasted on this film. Although not a complete waste of time, The Whole Truth ends up feeling like a filler piece of entertainment; something to watch when there are no better options. It isn’t completely terrible, but it is easily forgettable.
Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5.5/10
Historical Significance: 4/10
Special Features: 1/10