Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic content, sexuality, violence and some strong language. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: October 13, 2017 Released by: Open Road Films
Marshall doesn't highlight the most important legal events in Thurgood Marshall's life. Not Brown vs The Board of Education from 1954 or his effective 24 years as a Supreme Court Justice. It does bring a court case with a good script to the screen, and a good script produces a good or in this case a very good film.
Director Reginald Hudin forms the screen play from Jacob and Michael Koskoff into more than just a court battle for equal or fair rights under the law, the substance of the story is also somewhat of a mystery as Marshall and Sam Friedman the defense attorneys for a black man effectively played by Sterling K. Brown attempt to get to the truth in a rape trial.
While the indignity displayed in the forties in America are open and evident in the film the courtroom drama is filled with interesting twists, all based on human interaction desires and affinities. Marshall's skill as a trial lawyer are used by Sam Friedman (Josh Gad) who is not a criminal lawyer but can practice in Connecticut where Marshall is not licensed to practice although he can sit in the court and bring his experience to the table.
Performances by Josh Gar, Sterling K. Brown and in an unusual role for her, Kate Hudson excel as the important characters in the story. Hudson as the accuser and a woman who looks static but just right for a respectable white woman in the forties. Gar brings comedy and tension to his work as a Jewish attorney who faces his own discrimination and insults while not anxious to be in the spot he is forced to be in. His home life faces some difficulties because of his work on the case. Boseman as Marshall also brings the strength and intelligence and an edge of confidence to Marshall who knows he knows more that others in his field.
Director Hudin forms the play around the period using small and large representatives of the time. Some as simple as a fountain pen which has a bladder inside and can be filled by creating a small vacuum to fill or empty the pen, perfectly restored cars from the forties, Sunday dress, and hallways directly from the legal buildings of the time.
Mostly we get to see clues such as Marshall stating "It's the woman," and swimming skill which lead to unraveling the truth of what happen one night involving Hudson's Eleanor Strubing and the defendant Joseph Spell.
Over all this is an excellent film about a dark time in America just as it was beginning to see some light on race relations and Thurgood Marshall was just beginning to have an effect on the legal system in the nation.