Primal Fear (1996) – IMDb
An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.

“There never was an ‘Aaron,’ counselor…”
[…All the while, there had been only  “Roy,” Aaron’s alter ego who Aaron claimed actually had committed the murder.]


Martin Vail (Richard Gere) is a Chicago defense attorney who loves the spotlight and does everything he can to get his high-profile clients acquitted on legal technicalities. One day, he sees a news report about the arrest of Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton), a 19-year-old altar boy from Kentucky with a severe stutter, who is accused of brutally murdering the beloved Archbishop Rushman (Stanley Anderson). Vail jumps at the chance to represent the young man, pro bono. During his meetings at the County jail with Stampler, Vail comes to believe that his client is innocent, much to the chagrin of the prosecutor (and Vail’s former lover), Janet Venable (Laura Linney).

As the trial begins, Vail discovers that powerful civic leaders, including the corrupt state’s attorney John Shaughnessy (John Mahoney), recently lost millions of dollars in real estate investments due to a decision by the Archbishop not to develop on certain church-owned lands. The Archbishop secretly received numerous death threats as a result. Following a tip from a former altar boy about a videotape involving Stampler, Vail makes a search of the Archbishop’s apartment and finds a VHS tape shot by Rushman that shows Stampler being forced to have sex with another teenage altar boy and a teenage girl named Linda Forbes. Vail is now in a dilemma: introducing this evidence would make Stampler more sympathetic to the jury; but it would also give him a motive for the murder, which Venable is unable to establish.

When Vail confronts his client and accuses him of having lied, Stampler breaks down crying and suddenly transforms into a new persona: a violent, foul-mouthed sociopath who calls himself “Roy”… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primal_Fear_(film)


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