"Do you know what I would do if someone did that to me? I would kill him..."
Description: Laura Linney as prosecuting attorney Janet Venable speaks her mind concerning a case about a Chicago altar boy accused of murdering a Catholic archbishop who allegedly molested young boys in the motion picture Primal Fear (1996).
"On my first day of law school, my professor says two things. First was: 'From this day forward, when your mother tells you she loves you - get a second opinion [and] If you want justice, go to a whorehouse. If you wanna get fucked, go to court'." - Martin Vail, lawyer
Martin Vail is a hotshot Chicago lawyer who takes on the high-profile case of nineteen-year- old Aaron Stampler (Ed Norton) who is seen running from the scene of the crime covered in blood. His client is accused of murdering a young girl named Linda and Archbishop Rushman (Stanley Anderson), an eminent Catholic priest who had taken the homeless Aaron in to his care.
Loving a challenge, and a chance to be in the public spotlight, Martin accepts the seemingly unwinnable case pro-bono and sets out to keep his client (whom we learn has multiple personalities) from being sentenced to death.
While discussing the case with prosecuting attorney Janet Venable (Martin's girlfriend), she offers her displeasure on the idea of child molestation and gives this opinion on the subject:
"Do you know what I would do if someone did that to me? I would kill him, I wouldn’t hesitate. I would stab him 78 times. I would chop off his fingers, slash his throat open, carve numbers in his chest, gouge out his eyes, I swear to God!...But that’s me”
During the trial, Martin discovers the archbishop had received death threats from angry businessmen who had lost money due to land development issues handled by the priest. Further, Martin discovers pornographic video tapes of the archbishop with three teenagers making love in his presence, among them, two alter boys (one being Aaron Stampler) and the murdered girl, Linda.
Martin tries to introduce the evidence but it is squashed by the district attorney who wants to keep the child molestation issue from ever arising. The prosecuting attorney, however, releases the information, and for that, she is later fired.
Martin manages to get Aaron acquitted of the crime based on psychological reasons, (his alternate persona Roy attacked Jane Venable during the trial) and thus remanded to a maximum security mental hospital.
Later, when Martin visits his client, he learns that the stammering, befuddled Aaron was actually a fake persona created by Roy. His clever client made the whole MPD issue up to cover for his murder of the bishop and the young girl.
And so Aaron/Roy are found not-guilty on grounds of insanity and his lawyer Martin Vail must live with the fact that he is responsible for letting a guilty person go unpunished.
In the end, we are left with the conclusion that his manipulative client will one day convince his doctors that he no longer suffers from multiple personality disorder and will go free.
|Roy:||[stammering as Aaron] I j-j-just... had to kill Linda, Mr. Vail. [normal voice as Roy] That cunt just got what she deserved. But... cutting up that son of a bitch Rushman... that was just a fucking work of art.|
|Marty:||You're good. You are really good.|
|Roy:||Yeah, I did get caught, though, didn't I?|
|Marty:||So there never... there never was a Roy?|
|Roy:||Jesus Christ, Marty. If that's what you think, I'm disappointed in you. There never was an Aaron... counselor! Come on, I thought you had it figured there at the end. The way you put me on the stand like that... that was brilliant! The whole "act-like-a-man" thing. I knew what you wanted. It was like we were dancing, Marty! We did it, man. We fucking did it. We're a great team, you and me. You think I could've done this without you? You're feeling angry because you started to care about old Aaron, but... love hurts, Marty. What can I say? I'm just kidding, bud! I didn't mean to hurt your feelings! What else was I supposed to do? You'll thank me down the road, because this'll toughen you up, Martin Vail! You hear me? That's a promise!|