Witness

Rated R 112 minutes 2012

Plotlines don't get much phonier than this: when a ten-year-old Amish boy witnesses a murder, his testimony allows a big-city cop (Harrison Ford) to uncover a chain of corruption in the Philadelphia police department; pursued by his superiors, the cop hides out on the boy's farm, where he falls in love with his conveniently widowed mother (Kelly McGillis). Luckily Peter Weir, the standard-bearer of the Australian Tradition of Quality, is on hand to smother all the contrivances in his solemn, academic style, and the result is a moderately effective, highly affected thriller (1985). Weir, at least, has abandoned his mystical bent (apart from a few nostalgic glances at the Amish as representatives of a more pure, more noble style of life—like the aborigines who used to populate his films), and Harrison Ford suggests (for the first time) an ability to function beyond the technological support of the Lucas-Spielberg combine, his ironically worn virility turning into a distinctive manner.

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