“I have to go into court and play a part in a stupid charade to convince some judge that I’m not really me in order to receive some justice!”
When a college student (Michael Sarrazin) accidentally runs over and kills an old lady (Maya Kenin), he finds his liberal lifestyle rather than his crime put on trial; eventually he and his girlfriend (Barbara Hershey) decide to take matters into their own hands.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Barbara Hershey Films
- Living Nightmare
- Robert Mulligan Films
This oddly provocative counterculture flick posits a Kafka-esque “living nightmare” any one of us could find ourselves in — involuntary vehicular manslaughter — and takes this scenario to its farthest limits, ultimately arguing that expatriation may be the only option when the legal strictures of one’s country have become too outlandish to obey. Made during the height of the Vietnam protest era, it’s an interesting non-political variation on the theme of private resistance; one can’t help siding with Sarrazin’s sympathetic protagonist, who tries to play by the rules but ultimately finds himself damned no matter what he does. It’s all a bit stagy and forced at times, but there are several fine supporting performances to watch for (most notably by Arthur Hill, E.G. Marshall, and William Devane), and the central premise is compelling enough to hold interest throughout.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Arthur Hill as William’s father
- E.G. Marshall as William’s no-nonsense lawyer-uncle
- William Devane’s tiny but memorable performance
- A provocative thematic basis
No, but it’s worth a look if you stumble upon a copy. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.