Nicholas Hytner’s rising, masterful adaptation of Arthur Miller’s play remains one of the best filmed versions of a classic play. Hytner successfully manages to transfer some of the play’s more theatrical moments onto the screen in a compelling manner, from the frenetic camera movement to the way the actors move around both each other and the sets. Daniel Day-Lewis is fine in the lead role, but there are a number of stand-out performances from his co-stars, from a ferocious Winona Ryder to a downtrodden Joan Allen, not to mention Karron Graves and Charlayne Woodard. However, the film truly becomes a masterpiece when Paul Scofield joins the proceedings halfway through as Judge Thomas Danforth, who delights in each syllable and inflection like nothing could be more fun. This is a underrated period drama that should have succeeded better at the box office and during awards season, and is definitely worth watching for literary fans and theater buffs.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)