The Advocate (1993) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

[This film is also known as The Hour of the Pig]

Two thumbs up. If this is your type of film, it's a good one.

Scoop's comments in white.

This is a cynical look at human nature, as filtered through France in the Dark Ages.

Colin Firth plays a brilliant lawyer who tires of the politicking and compromises necessary to practice in Paris, so he decides to move to a small town, where he can build an estate which he could not afford in Paris, and thus enjoy the simple country life in a stress-free life of simple property adjudications and domestic disputes.


  • Amina Annabi shows her breasts in clear light, then later in a dark sex scene.
  • Lysette Anthony does a well-lit full-frontal scene.
  • Harriet Walter shows her breasts briefly.
  • Sophie Dix does an extended full frontal and rear nude scene, in which she undresses, then has sex with Firth.
  • Colin Firth shows his buns in two different scenes.
  • Ian Holm shows his buns in the public baths.
  • There are dozens of other instances of nudity from background players of both sexes, including frontals from both genders.

It doesn't quite work out that way. He finds out that the small town is filled with as many deals and intrigues as Paris, the crimes are just as horrifying as in the city, and everything is further complicated by the almost unchecked power of the local baron. After he has been in town for only a short while, Firth is asked to defend a pig who has been accused of murdering a young boy. In the law of that place and time, an animal could be held responsible for criminal acts, and could be sent to the gallows like a man.

The lawyer is embroiled in a complex controversy. He is in love with the gypsy woman who owns the pig, and the animal represents not only food to the gypsies, but their rights as citizens, because they know for a fact that the pig was tethered while the crime was committed. Therefore, Firth is under immense pressure to defend the pig and set it free. On the other hand, the absolute authority of the baron cannot be challenged, and the baron wants the pig to be found guilty, for his own dark reasons related to the real fate of the murdered boy. Firth has to figure out a solution that will satisfy all parties.

It's an interesting movie, written for intellectuals, comparable to the plays of Robert Bolt or James Goldman in that it uses a long bygone time as a window through which we may view as much about our times and nature as theirs -  if there truly is any meaningful difference. Although the film is not played out as a comedy, the dialogue is constructed to make use of situational irony, thus revealing additional and different attitudes than the ones shown ostensibly. Thus, there is nothing remotely funny about the scene in which a man and his she-ass are to be hanged for copulation with one another, yet the situation is so ludicrous, and the donkey seems so out of place on the gallows with a noose around her neck, that the humor is evident, although it is never betrayed by the tone. The funniest thing in the entire film is when the hanging is stopped by a last-minute reprieve. At first it seems like the typical movie cliché, a messenger bearing a pardon from the bishop which attests to the good character of the accused. Unfortunately for the man, this is no cliché. The verbiage in the pardon is referring to the good character of the donkey, so she is freed while the man's execution continues.

I wonder why Colin Firth didn't ever become a bigger international star. He had the talent. He had the looks. I've liked him in everything he's been in. I guess his personality lacked the kind of pizzazz necessary to promote himself properly for the all-important American market, and every time he was in a movie that succeeded in America (Shakespeare in Love, Bridget Jones's Diary, e.g.), he had some kind of non-charismatic role which blended him into the background.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • The DVD is a bit of a disappointment. The transfer is nice enough, but this would have been an excellent time to restore the scenes which were deleted in 1993 to avoid the NC-17 rating which it was originally assigned. Unfortunately, the DVD includes only the R-rated theatrical version.

Tuna's comments in yellow:

I always love courtroom dramas, and this is a good one.

The film is everything Scoopy said it was, and goes into fairly intricate detail as to how the upper classes use the superstition of the masses to hide their price fixing, how the clergy seduces "Good wives" in the confessional, and even goes a long way towards explaining the belief in witchcraft and magic so common with the peasants. Best of all, it packages all of the main plot, and all of the motivations and beliefs of each segment of society, but it does it without ruining what is a very good yarn.

The Critics Vote

  • General USA consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4.

The People Vote ...

  • Arthouse: it grossed less than a million dollars in the USA.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "This is a classic C+ movie by our rating system. It's a very good movie in many ways, even flirting with greatness, but how big a niche is there for a dark comedy/drama about Medieval France? The non-existent box office answers that question tellingly." Tuna says, "I agree that this film is a C+. It is a very good film, but might be a touch cerebral for some."

Return to the Movie House home page