The movie is about a jury made up of twelve men as they discuss the fate of an 18 year old boy. Sounds boring but believe me, its far from it. I would actually go as far as saying its more entertaining than the CSI stuff we have on TV.
The opening scene is set in the courtroom but its only about a minute or so long. Then, the ending scene is outside the courthouse and onto the streets. Everything in between is on one set, the jury room. That’s a pretty bold move for a movie but somehow, it works. Anyway, when it fades from the courtroom to the jury room, it’s a very long fade so that the convicted-boy’s face looks like its in the jury room, almost to symbolize that the boy is forever present in that room.
Except for the very, very end, the men don’t have names, they’re simply numbers. I love this because therefore we don’t get distracted or confused by names, we just know the characters by face. Also, its done so subtly that you don’t realise they don’t mention names till the very end when two characters finally go “what’s your name?”
The acting and speech is incredibly realistic. The way they speak doesn’t sound scripted and they do talk over each other, just like in real life. And there is a man who has a cold and therefore we hear coughing ever now and then.
So, all the men just want to go home and say he’s guilty except one man who says they should talk about it as its about a boy’s life. I suppose that shows that humanity isn’t as sweet as we think it is.
I love all the contradictions in this script! Some of the men make prejudice judgments and when they’re either proven wrong or something along those lines, I found myself going “oooooo you got owned!” I’ll list a few of my favourite examples; a few of the men make comments on the fact the boy is from the slums and everyone from the slums are murderers and theives. Then, one the men says that he’s from the slums and the guys are like “oh, no, no, we didn’t mean you…” I think that has happened to everyone, when you’re talking about a ‘type’ of person and someone in the room or even a friend is one of them. Awkwaaaard! Yes, that’s it, there are loooads of awkward moments but they’re brilliantly awkward. Like, when the elder jury member 9 talks about how the old man [the witness] wants attention as he’s probably been a nobody all his life, one of the other men is like “how do YOU know?” and then there’s a pause and its like “aw, he’s like him! Aw, poor man…” I can’t quite describe it but its all just written so well!
Juror 10: “Bright? He’s a common ignorant slob. He don’t even speak good English.” Juror 11: “Doesn’t even speak good English.” Ooooo owned again!!!
Juror 3 is the last one to change from guilty to non-guilty, he’s the most arrogant of the lot to the point where its so frustrating to watch him. So, when they’re talking about what the old man saw, Juror 9: “He said fifteen seconds. He was very positive about it.” Juror 3: “He was an old man. Half the time he was confused. How could he be positive about anything!” And I went “OOOOO YOU JUST ADMITED YOU WERE WRONG! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” and then Juror 8 says that even if someone yells that they’re going to kill someone it doesn’t mean they’re actually going to do it and Juror 3 is like “yes, you do!” and then later on in the film he gets angry at 8 and screams “I’ll kill you” and I was like “OOOOO YOU DID IT AGAIN!!!” Seriously, you get really into this movie.
There is a… I don’t know why I think its particularly a beautiful scene but I just love the way it was staged. Juror 10 starts a racist rant, one by one the other jury members stand up from the table and move away, eventually having their back to the racist man. 10 realizes that people aren’t agreeing with him when everyone but two other people have their backs to him. He is then told to ‘never open his mouth again’ and is therefore shunned by the rest of the group. I just thought it was amazingly staged and wonderful to watch. Incredibly clever.
The ending, where they go down the stairs and into the streets was a bit of a shock reminder that these men are complete strangers and will probably never see each other again. After all the arguments and conversations, they will just go their separate ways. I just found that incredible…
For the ending credits, they show the character’s faces with the actor’s names as we’re never told the characters names except 2 at the very end but we’re still more familiar with their faces than names.
I don’t know if this review makes any sense at all but it is truly an incredibly good movie. If there is a film student reading this, you should watch this movie if you’re writing an essay on scriptwriting, this is the perfect example.