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Phil Spector

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(2012) ★★★

Sky Atlantic: Wednesday 6 May, 10pm

Al Pacino takes the title role, Helen Mirren is defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden, in David Mamet’s fictional musings on the legend behind the lurid headlines.

Phil Spector is on trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson in 2003. The facts do not support a conviction, but the defendant is an unstable 68-year-old megalomaniac, a former music industry bigshot back in the 60s and 70s. To Know Him is to Love Him! Wall of Sound! Back to Mono! Let It Be! Now he’s a gun-nut freak who was drunk in a locked room with a young woman when she put a revolver in her mouth.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened in his Disneyland-like Los Angeles mansion. Portrayed as a monster by the media, everyone assumes he’s guilty: “They let O.J. go, they let Michael Jackson go – they are not going to let him go.”

Mamet knows the way lawyers circumvent the law. He wrote the script for Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict. And Pacino knows his way around florid characters, decked out here in more wigs than Dolly Parton: “A lot of people think they’re wigs – that’s called prejudice.”

Mirren’s worried associate is Jeffrey Tambor, playing the New York attorney who got John Gotti off: “Are you going to put him on the stand, or should I just go jump under a train?”

Certificate: 15
Duration: 88min