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A witty British courtroom comedy-drama, set circa 1450, in which a Parisian lawyer (Colin Firth), accompanied by his clerk, tries his hand in the French provinces and becomes involved with a beautiful Gypsy outcast. In a misguided effort to cash in on the fanfare accompanying The Crying Game, viewers were urged not to reveal a “surprise” that this picture virtually gives away in its opening sequence, one predicated on the medieval practice of treating animals as “equals” of humans under the law. What's actually surprising is that most of this sexy, nicely acted, humorously detailed picture works on its own modest terms, without hype or gimmicks, even after some stupid censorious (as well as editorial) cuts from the distributor. Written and directed by the able TV documentarist Leslie Megahey, whose best earlier work includes a wonderful three-hour interview with Orson Welles; with Amina Annabi, Jim Carter, Donald Pleasence, Ian Holm, and Nicol Williamson.

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