This Friday (Oct. 12), “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Greatest Serial Killer” will be released in movie theatres around the country. Sadly, many people are unware of the movie’s existence. Please don’t allow the mainstream media’s almost complete silence to stop you from watching this wonderfully produced movie about an important topic.
Directed by Nick Searcy, best known for starring in FX’s “Justified,” “Gosnell” tackles the tough story of the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell with nuanced gravitas and artistic deftness. While assuming that most people are familiar with the story, I’m not going to provide much background information so as not to publish spoilers. For the sake of this review, Dr. Kermit Gosnell ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphia that was shut down after he was arrested for a myriad of crimes. And that’s where Gosnell begins, with the lead-up to and raid on Dr. Gosnell’s clinic. Ending with the trial completed, “Gosnell” is a stirring call to value and protect life.
Beginning with the screenplay, penned by Andrew Klavan, Phelim McAleer, and Ann McElhinney, “Gosnell” resists the temptation to devolve into a melodramatic serial killer movie. In large part because of the tone set by the tightly constructed screenplay that never once waivers off point, Searcy and his cast are able to deliver an entertaining movie that also calls the viewer to think and feel deeply about the presence of the evil of abortion in our society, but without using cheap dramatic tactics to manipulate the audience’s emotions. Everything is earned honestly in “Gosnell.”
An important tactic of the filmmakers was focusing on the events of the trial and not allowing “Gosnell” to become an overt pro-life propaganda piece. You see, it doesn’t need to be. Even though the characters assert throughout the film that abortion is not on trial, the viewer knows that it is. And this is why the MSM is mostly silent about this excellent movie, and why you should go see it. Taking on abortion in such a powerful and artistically excellent way poses a grave threat to the MSM’s love of the leftist agenda.
“Gosnell” is at its best when Searcy trains the camera on Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Alexis McGuire (played by Sarah Jane Morris) and Dr. Kermit Gosnell (played by Earl Billings). The two represent good and evil, yet both present a complex picture of good and evil.
Under his kindly, grandfatherly exterior, Dr. Gosnell is a monster. Some of the more poignant moments in the film involve Dr. Gosnell calmly and warmly attending to down-to-earth business; during those moments the viewer is made more aware of the presence of evil by the depiction of a false goodness. Earl Billings expertly prevents his characterization of Dr. Gosnell from becoming a cartoon villain. He knows exactly how far to take each layer of a man as disturbed as Dr. Gosnell.
Likewise, Sarah Jane Morris delivers a breathtakingly nuanced performance as the ADA tasked with prosecuting Dr. Gosnell. Her character is not a crusader. In fact, ADA McGuire is pro-choice. All she wants is to do her job well and prosecute a criminal. Yet, as a mom and a human being, McGuire can’t help but be affected by the details of the case. Morris takes on the challenge of McGuire’s internal conflict and portrays a woman who has to decide if she’s comfortable living in the margin between good and evil.
In an incredibly powerful scene, McGuire is forced to deal with her conflict while watching her daughter’s piano recital. During that scene, that camera focuses on Morris’ face and the actress tells far more with her eyes than words could tell. If Hollywood was more concerned with art and less concerned with politics, Sarah Jane Morris would be inundated with nominations this coming awards season for her work in “Gosnell.”
The rest of the cast does a great job, too. Dean Cain as Detective James Wood gives what may be the best performance of his career. Besides directing the movie, Nick Searcy plays defense attorney Mike Cohan to perfection. Like the movie he directed, the character resists becoming one-dimensional for the sake of cheap emotional payouts. Searcy understands that the power of storytelling is in the nuances.
“Gosnell” is a movie that excels as entertainment and, maybe more importantly, as a means to starting a conversation about abortion. However, that conversation will end before it can begin if audiences don’t buy tickets to see the movie. The MSM will have a hard time ignoring “Gosnell” and its subject matter if the movie makes noise at the box office. Above all else, money speaks in Hollywood. Let’s make them listen.
(Check if Gosnell is playing near you by clicking here.)