Powerful, media-hungry Chicago defense attorney Martin Vail (Richard Gere) gets in over his head when he takes the case of an altar boy (Edward Norton making his film debut) accused of murdering an archbishop. His opponent for the prosecution is his former protege and lover Janet Venable (Laura Linney), who's out to make this her watershed case. A suspenseful courtroom with a truly unexpected ending, this drama is based on the novel by William Diehl.
Edward Norton - Actor/Director
John Mahoney - American actor, FRASIER
Laura Linney - Actress
Ann Biderman - Writer/"American Dreamer"
Andre Braugher - American Actor/"Glory"
Gary Lucchesi - Producer
Gregory Hoblit - Director
Steve Shagan - American Screenwriter
Richard Gere - American actor, PRETTY WOMAN
Michael Chapman - American Director Of Photography/Director
Jeannine Claudia Oppewall - Production Designer, SEABISCUIT (2003)
Jeannine Oppewall - Production Designer, SEABISCUIT (2003)
Frances McDormand - American Actress
Alfre Woodard - American actress
Maura Tierney - American Actress
William Diehl - Writer/"Sharky's Machine"
James Newton Howard - Composer, KING KONG (2005)
David Rosenbloom - Editor, BEHIND ENEMY LINES (2001)
In Chicago, an Archbishop has been brutally murdered, and a sweet-faced altar boy named Aaron -- who was seen fleeing the scene of the crime and whose clothes were soaked in blood -- is charged with the crime. Aaron claims he was present when the murder occurred, but that he is not the killer. Coming to Aaron's rescue in this high-profile case is Martin Vail, a cocky lawyer who loves the media's spotlight as much as he loves his job. The legal road ahead of Martin and Aaron is filled with many obstacles, including a very determined prosecuting attorney (who's Martin's ex-lover), revelations about the Archbishop's "relationship" with the altar boys, and Aaron himself, who has a very violent, repugnant second personality named Roy. Is Aaron/Roy guilty? Or is he taking the fall for someone else?
Released theatrically in the USA April 3, 1996. Shot on location in Chicago, Illinois in Panavision. Prints by DeLuxe. Director Gregory Hoblit is well known as one of the creative forces behind the hit televisions series "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law," and "NYPD Blue." Soundtrack album available on Milan CD's and cassettes. Rated BBFC 18 by the British Board of Film Classification.
"...Taut thriller....[Norton gives a] hypnotic performance..." - 12/01/1996 Premiere, p.115-16
"...Richard Gere gives a focused performance..." - 04/03/1996 USA Today, p.7D
"...Gere's showy yet mature performance holds the movie together....PRIMAL is the most riveting courtroom drama since 1982's THE VERDICT..." -- Rating: B+ - 10/18/1996 Entertainment Weekly, pp.88-9
"...Well-crafted....Linney is excellent....Hoblit's direction is ultra-attentive to story points..." - 04/01/1996 Variety
"...[Gere] shows what an interesting actor he can be. PRIMAL FEAR contains some of his best work..." - 04/03/1996 Chicago Sun-Times, p.45
"The plot is as good as crime procedurals get, but the movie is really better than its plot because of the three-dimensional characters." - 04/05/1996 Chicago Sun-Times