A brilliantly insane and entirely overlooked film
johnnym77 | St Paul, MN United States | 08/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Advocate", written and directed by Leslie Megahey, is an underrated and overlooked film, masterful in its subtle insanity and brutally honest in its depiction of its characters and setting.The time is 15th-century France, a time when animals were subject to the same civil laws and penalties as humans and could be tried in a court of law. Parisian lawyer Richard Courtois (Colin Firth) and his clerk Mathieu (Jim Carter) arrive in a small rural province. Courtois intends to enlighten the suprstitious and backwards populous, run by an unofficial leader (Nicol Williamson). Courtois' skills are put to the test when he must defend a pig accused of murder. That the pig belongs to a roving band of gypsies only complicates matters. Mixed into the conflict is racism, accusations of witchcraft, political and religious corruption, and whispers of the Cathar heresy.The movie is wonderfully acted, and the director is sure not to glorify or soften any of the characters. Courtois may be intelligent, but he is also arrogant. The priest (Ian Holm) may be enlightened, but he is also a womanizer. The music and costumes are more period appropriate than most medeival fair, and many themes and signs of the times are apparent: the street preacher that accosts Courtois, the secrets of the Cathar heresy, and a particularly vivid Hieronymus Bosch-inspired nightmare. While the film is ostensibly a drama, their is much bawdy, Canterbury Tales-style humor, enough to keep the film from collapsing under its own weight.The film is finally available on DVD, and this may bring a new round of fans to it. For myself, who had only ever seen it on video, seeing it in widescreen was a wonderful thing. Be warned, however, the film has a very twisted plot, and multiple viewings may be required to sort it all out. That's not even mentioning the twist ending, a moment of deliciously black irony. Definitely a must for period film fans and certainly for anyone who loves quirky, slightly off-key dramas."
A real B movie, raised up by great acting
V. Gelczis | Bay Area, CA USA | 11/02/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If I could, I'd give this 3-1/2 stars, not just 3. Colin Firth, Ian Holm, Nicol Williamson, and Donald Pleasance, among others, make this film worth watching. History fans might enjoy the before and after synopses of the characters and the historical figures on whom they were based. Colin Firth fans will definitely appreciate his bed and bath scenes, although his acting abilities take everything up a notch. Still, with the gratuitous nudity, modern feel, and slim production values, this film can't aspire above B-movie status.The plot's a bit convoluted. The story is minimally narrated by Matthieu, the law clerk, yet he figures very little in it. Is the story about his boss--the advocate--or about the town? Maybe it's too ambitious in scope, what with its contrasting of country life and city life, interjections of witches, superstition, racism against Jews and gypsies, fornicating by the local clergy, secret societies of merchants, the Black Plague, unusual hunting prey, and sodomy. Oh, yes, then there's the trying of animals in court, a central theme that adds both humor and pathos to the proceedings and proves to be the unraveling of a dark and dirty secret hidden within the town walls. The ending's twist on the knight in shining armor is a good one.The film's worth a viewing for some fine performances and relatively interesting Medieval subject matter. Just don't expect it to be high brow."
Murderous Medieval Porker Assembles Dream Team
D. Hartley | Seattle, WA USA | 05/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This bawdy romp through the medieval French countryside is an ideal candidate for "cult" status. Colin Firth's 12th-Century yuppie lawyer is farmed out to Le Hicksville to plead the case of a pig. Contrary to what you might think, the courtroom scenes actually provide the most sobering moments in the film, reminding us of how frighteningly easy it is for humans to kowtow thier basic freedoms to superstition and dogma. It is Firth's interactions with the "locals" outside the courtroom that provide the most entertainment. Some memorable tete a tetes involving a chambermaid and a fiery Gypsy siren recall the 1963 classic "Tom Jones" at times. Wonderful supporting performances from the likes of Ian Holm and the late Donald Pleasence (playing the "heavy" as only he could) round off this unique, highly entertaining little sleeper. Note: I have NEVER seen this film referred to as "Hour Of The Pig" (outside of this listing)...it is always titled as "The Advocate" on cable and in video stores."
Serendipity Cinema #8
Cecil W. Owens | http://movieandtvnews.blogspot.com/ | 06/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A film you may never have heard of, but really should see. Trust me. (AKA "The Hour of the Pig") A good guy lawyer? A medieval good guy lawyer? A medieval good guy lawyer defending a pig who is charged with murder? And is isn't a slapstick comedy? This you got to see. The Advocate is an delicious medieval court drama that takes placein the days when humans and animals were both known to be hosts for the devil. Courtois, an educated lawyer (Colin Firth), runs from the big city to find peace in the countryside but, instead finds murderous acts holding the a village in fear. I won't give you more for fear of ruining the surprises, but the cast is peopled with dynamite performers like; Ian Holm , Donald Pleasence, Nicol Williamson & Michael Gough. Although there is a common inclination to sell this as a comedy,don't be fooled, there is dark moody drama here also.This is fun, thoughtful, intriguing drama and just one of the best films you are likely to ever see that contains the word "Pig" in the title."