Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Miranda's Victim

Based on actual events, Miranda's Victim examines the court case which created the Miranda warning. Prior to the ruling by the Supreme Court, criminal suspects had no legal protection or recourse before eventually walking into a court of law. However, while the ruling led to the creation of those rights and broad protection under the law, its origins are less well known and such a ruling did put one young woman in the crosshairs of history.

Abigail Breslin stars as Trish Weir who, at the age of 18, was kidnapped and raped by Ernesto Miranda (Sebastian Quinn) who was convicted and sentenced to prison. However, notable defense lawyer John J. Flynn (Ryan Phillippe) argued methods used by police were questionable at best, and perhaps even criminal, leading to the ACLU scoring a victory for the rights of individuals and forcing the state of Arizona to prosecute Miranda once more. The ruling left Trish, who the film strongly suggests was just one of Miranda's many victims, as the only voice to stand against him.

The screenplay by J. Craig Stiles has an interesting focus in largely ignoring the inherent positives of the Supreme Court ruling for millions wrongly suspected and/or accused of crimes, and coerced by police, and instead focusing on how this one case deeply affected the life of Trish Weir and her family. Years after attempting to move beyond Miranda's attack, Trish was forced to live through it all again with the state far more hamstrung in its prosecution the second time around. Seen in bits of flashbacks, nightmares, and testimony, the film doesn't squirm from highlighting the monstrous crime perpetrated by Miranda and its lasting effects on Weir.

The film is most notable for its performances, particularly that of Breslin as the shy and tortured Weir who can find some comfort in her older sister (Emily VanCamp) but little from her mother (Mireille Enos) who is against possibly shedding any light on events that she believes won't be properly prosecuted in any event. The Weir family dynamic certainly has its moments.

The film doesn't think much of the male gender with Luke Wilson standing in as the only likable character with a Y chromosome. Other examples include Phillipe as the publicity hound, Andy Garcia as Miranda's original lawyer who believes he was railroaded but couldn't have avoided his obvious guilt, Josh Bowman as Trish's shitbag of a husband, and Dan Lauria as the grotesque doctor who examines Trish after her attack. Brent Sexton and Enrique Murciano make out out slightly better as detectives willing to blur lines in their search for criminals while struggling to show empathy to their victims. Donald Sutherland, as the judge for the final case, seems to be portraying the embodiment of the patriarchal legal system's crashing down on Trish as well.

Miranda's Victim is a solid film with performances and characters that get a little less interesting, and less developed, the further removed they are from Breslin orbit and Trish's torment. That said, it's easily worth a look, especially for fans of Bresslin or those interested to see how often legal rights and progress can come through problematic moments and means leaving some the victims of history.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Miranda's Victim
  • IMDb: link

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