Young Barbara is testifying, giving details of how she was sexually abused by maths teacher, Mr Gettys. Defence, Kevin Lomax, presents as evidence a drawing of Gettys — calling him a huge hog beast. Lomax says Barbara told other children to falsely claim Gettys had hurt them, too. Barbara’s father lunges at Lomax.
Lomax wins the case. On the dance floor, Lomax bites wife, Mary Ann’s, backside. Leamon Heath wants Lomax to come to New York and help them pick a jury. All expenses, first class travel and lodging, Lomax and his wife. A lump sum payment, regardless of the verdict.
In New York, Lomax whispers to Heath, who then beckons to Meisel. Lomax says dump him, along with numbers four, six and twelve. Meisel calls number four a defendant’s juror. Lomax says he makes his own clothes and sleeps with a gun nearby. Number six is a Catholic school teacher and believes in human frailty. Lomax says somebody hurt her and she wants revenge.
In addition to their corporate clients, Milton, Chadwick and Waters represents twenty five foreign countries. It’s interesting work, but travel-intensive. John Milton appears and shakes hands with Lomax. He says sixty four straight convictions. Milton leads Lomax onto an infinity pool. Lomax calls it peaceful.
Milton says there’s a lot of potential clients below them. Milton knows Lomax has talent, but asks if Lomax can summon his talent at will, deliver on a deadline and still sleep at night.
Mary Ann’s being shown an 18th century Italian silk damask with an embossed floriated pattern of undulating acanthus leaves. Lomax haggles aggressively for a better price.
In court, Lomax slams a veal roast onto the table. USDA approved and stamped. Men kill animals and eat their flesh. Philippe Moyez killed a goat and he did it at home in a manner consistent with his religious beliefs. The judge becomes impatient with the prosecution’s sustained, unexplained coughing fit.
At his party, Barzoon presents the top of the food chain. They’re all players and they’re all prospects. Diana and Jackie point out Milton to Mary Ann. Milton introduces himself.
He suggests Mary Ann pull back her hair. And, she must cut her hair. A woman’s shoulders are the frontlines of her mystique and her neck has all the mystery of a border town. She grins.
They billed Alexander Cullen 16,242 hours the previous year. Now, he’s been charged with murdering his wife, her stepson and a maid. Milton wants Lomax on the case, the best trial lawyer in New York.
Milton says Cullen has enemies he hasn’t heard from. Lomax says jury selection began that morning at every breakfast table in the city. Cullen needs immediate representation and they must issue a statement.
Out clothes shopping with Diana and Jackie, Mary Ann’s shocked she’s holding a $3,000 dress. From under her raised arm, Jackie’s face briefly becomes grotesque, hands slithering beneath her skin. Mary Ann leaves.
She tells Lomax she doesn’t like it there. They have lots of money and it should be fun, but it’s not. She slides down a wall sobbing.
Lomax must understand exactly what happened. Cullen throws a gun on the floor and recreates the fateful night. Lomax can’t believe Cullen is carrying a gun. He confiscates it til after the case.
On the subway, a man is irritated by Milton watching him. The man produces a knife, threatening to cut Milton’s throat. In Spanish, Milton says the man’s wife is currently smoking crack and being sodomised. Milton says the man should put that knife where it belongs.
Mary Ann finds a baby sitting on the floor of the apartment playing with entrails. She’s shocked to find blood on her nightdress. Lomax returns home. Through tears, she says he’ll certainly leave her, mentioning the failed decorating.
Mary Ann’s sisters have seven children between them. The doctor said she has non-specific ovarian failure. She thinks Lomax is gonna leave her. The phone rings. She says it’s the monsters.
Cullen’s prenuptial agreement is void in the event of marital infidelity. If Cullen sleeps around, she gets rich — that’s a motive. Cullen says he was seeing Melissa Black the night his wife got shot.
Milton says Lomax should see to his sick wife. What scares Lomax is he quits the case, Mary Ann recovers and he hates her for it. Only after it’s finished will he put all his energy into Mary Ann.
Lomax addresses the jury. He doesn’t like Alexander Cullen and lists his many faults. Lomax wants the jury to ask themselves if not liking him is reason enough to convict him of murder.
Milton nursed Barzoon through two divorces, a cocaine rehab and a pregnant receptionist. You build egos the size of cathedrals until every human becomes his own god. Even the bees’ honey takes on the metallic taste of radioactivity and it comes faster and faster.
Barzoon’s put on his back. His arm’s broken with a tree branch and he’s bludgeoned to death. His attackers’ faces grotesque.
Lomax tells Melissa the prosecutor’s gonna change tempo, attitude and tone of voice. He’ll ask surprising questions. When Lomax asks if Cullen’s circumcised, she storms off.
After the court win, including Melissa’s testimony, Lomax finds Mary Ann in a blanket in church. She says Milton raped her. She stands up naked, revealing multiple fresh scars shouting “no”.
Mary Ann’s strapped to a gurney. She says the blood money’s responsible. They both drank it down knowing they were guilty. Mary Ann currently sees a monster in the mirror.
At Barzoon’s funeral, Lomax watches Cullen covertly caress his young stepdaughter’s back. Cullen morphs into Mr Gettys and Lomax leaves.
Outside, Mitch Weaver, Justice Department, says Barzoon was killed because he was about to testify. Milton’s into arms brokering, money laundering and much else unethical. They found Gettys the previous day with the body of a ten year old girl in his car. In the church, Milton fizzes the holy water with his finger. Simultaneously, Weaver’s killed by a speeding car.
Lomax visits Mary Ann in hospital. Lomax’s secretary, Garrety, shows Mary Ann her beautiful reflection in a hand mirror. Mary Ann sees Garrety’s grotesque reflection and smashes the mirror, barricading herself in the room alone. She says she loves Lomax, then carves a gash in her throat with a shard of mirror, falling to her knees.
Lomax is heartbroken and angry. Alice tells Lomax she was sixteen and a thousand miles from home. The waiter knew the Bible well and she was lonely and bewitched. She says Milton’s Lomax’s father.
Lomax arrives at Milton’s office. The wall sculpture shifts about. Lomax asks what Milton did to Mary Ann, producing a gun. Milton boasts of how debauched his experience was with Mary Ann.
Lomax shoots at Milton seven times to no avail. Milton cheers. Lomax shoots Milton more. Lomax should cherish that fury. Lomax says Mary Ann knew Milton’s true nature, so he destroyed her.
Milton says all Mary Ann wanted was love. Lomax could’ve helped her but didn’t. Lomax goes to leave. Milton told Lomax “The world would understand”. Lomax’s response was “What scares him is he leaves the case, she gets better and then he hates her for it”. Lomax yells that he’s a lawyer. That’s his job.
Milton introduces Lomax’s half-sister, Christabella. She wraps her arms around Lomax. Milton calls God a prankster. He gives man instincts, then sets the rules in opposition. Look, but don’t touch. Touch, but don’t taste. Taste, but don’t swallow. God laughs his head off.
Milton wants Lomax to take over the firm with Christabella, adding that she’s ovulating. Milton needs a family to help him. Milton’s offering bliss any way Lomax wants it. That first line of cocaine. That walk into a strange girl’s bedroom. That cold courtroom bending to Lomax’s strength. No strings pleasure.
Christabella becomes naked. Lomax starts kissing her. Milton talks in Latin. The virtue of the Devil is in his loins. Milton excuses love as biochemically no different from eating large quantities of chocolate. Lomax mentions free will and blows his brains out.
Milton and Christabella both cry out no. The moving sculpture and Milton burst into flames. Milton’s clothes burn away. Christabella’s body rots on the floor. Milton’s face becomes Lomax’s and he grows white, angel wings while yelling.
Lomax is startled at the Gainsville courthouse. He finds Mary Ann and kisses her. He declares he can’t represent his client and must be replaced as counsel. Gettys trusted Lomax to defend him and offers threats. Lomax hugs Mary Ann saying he’s doing the right thing.
A lawyer with a crisis of conscience is huge. Lomax thinks he’ll be disbarred. Mary Ann asks if they can do that. Larry says not when he gets through with the story. It’s a story that must be told. Larry morphs into a grinning Milton, saying vanity’s definitely his favourite sin.
Starring Keanu Reeves. Al Pacino. Charlize Theron. Rated 18. Dir Taylor Hackford. Released in the UK 1997. Runtime 2hrs 24mins