All rise . . .
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 01/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Viewers familiar with Court TV will find this film a fascinating look into another somewhat different judicial system, as it focuses on a series of proceedings in Paris' 10th District Court. Set up more like successive episodes of Judge Judy (though without the brassy edge of that particular TV personality), defendants must make their own case on charges ranging from domestic abuse to drunk driving, and the judge asks all the questions. Attorneys and the prosecutor, get to participate little, though when given the opportunity to speak can sometimes be even less coherent than the defendants. (The attorney for the young man charged with making harassing phone calls after a failed relationship attempts to dismiss the evidence of physical abuse as the excess of love in a typical tumultuous romance - you wonder what he had to drink before he came to court that day.)
While the men and women brought up on charges are fascinating to watch in closeup, one is impressed early on by the stamina required of the judge to be the chief interrogator, directing and making sense of each of their testimonies while consulting a pile of court documents that would fill a wheelbarrow. And we see the same judge handling expedited hearings (cf. night court) long after midnight, never showing fatigue and rarely losing her patience - at times even exhibiting a sense of humor. It is a job only for someone quick-witted and tenacious in the art of cutting through fog. "I hope you are able to sleep at night," says one disgruntled man found guilty of picking pockets in the Metro. One assumes with confidence that she does."