12 Angry Men is a courtroom drama unlike any other. Except for the opening and closing, it takes place entirely within a single room, with no other characters other than the 12 jurors. This would make for a pretty boring movie otherwise, but 12 Angry Men is not boring in the least. It is consistently watchable through multiple viewings, one of the best compliments I can give a good film, and is extremely well made to boot.
A perfect character study with a sublime script makes this film a brilliant exercise in dialogue-driven drama. Many of the directing decisions by Sidney Lumet are well-known now thanks to the popularity of the film; mostly the way the camera slowly drops lower and lower and zooms in closer and closer as the film goes on, all to create an extreme claustrophobia. Each member of the cast plays their part to perfection, and each man is a solidly built character. Henry Fonda delivers an impeccably forthright performance as the one standout juror obstinate from the rest of the guilty voters, as does Lee J. Cobb as the main juror antagonistic to Fonda’s character.
Really, if you’re a film lover of any sort, you’ll have seen this film just to not be ridiculed by your fellow film fans. And if not, seriously, what are you waiting for? This is absolutely essential cinema, and is always worth a refreshing repeat viewing every once in a while.
Arbitrary Rating: 10/10