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Festivale Winter 1997

Conspiracy Theory

We all know it's not true, but what if?…

He's a wild-mannered taxi driver from hell (Mel Gibson), well, New York, but what's the difference? He drives like a maniac, and his parking is even scarier. And everyone in authority seems to know his face. He's a kook -- a weirdo, a nervous, twitchy bundle of conspiracy theories.

Movie Poster, Conspiracy Theory with Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson, Festivale film review logo
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But just when you've decided Jerry Fletcher is another one of them (kooks) full of paranoid tales of them (men in black and helicopters in whisper mode), a black helicopter switches to whisper mode and men in black rain down onto the streets of New York. Welcome to his nightmare.

So now, viewers, you don't know who to believe, especially when Patrick Stewart plays an irredeemably conscienceless public servant/scientist who can make entire government departments go away.

Alice (Julia Roberts) doesn't believe Jerry, but as the film progresses we discover that she has more reason to tolerate him than just compassion.

Conspiracy Theory has one of the most interesting opening credits sequences I've seen in a long time -- and it wastes no time, since Mel Gibson's in character voice over gives insight into the character as well as demonstrating the kinds of conspiracy theories that abound.

Conspiracy Theory taps into the U.S. suspicion that "everything is not as it seems", and also the belief that the government and its agencies are as ruthless and immoral about using citizens as any Nazi research doctor. It also raises questions about just why people seem strange.

The human mind is emminently logical -- it's just sometimes our premises or priorities are out of whack. Jerry Fletcher starts out a funny everyman, deteriorates into a man that most people would avoid, and achieves redemption and heroic status when we take the time to enter his world and look for the meaning beyond the words.

Conspiracy Theory is not fine art, but rumour has it that it's a watchable adventure with a bit of fun.
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Just the facts:

Title: Conspiracy Theory
Written by: Brian Helgeland
Directed by: Richard Donner
Produced by: Dan Cracchiolo, Richard Donner, J. Mills Goodloe, Richard Solomon
Edited by: Kevin Stitt / Frank J. Urioste
Cinematography: John Schwartzman
Warner Bros. / Donner/Schuler-Donner Productions / Silver Pictures

The Players: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart, Cylk Cozart
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