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‘Trial by Fire’ Trailer: Jack O’Connell and Laura Dern Take on Death Row

Edward Zwick's based-on-fact drama premiered at Telluride last year.

Trial by Fire

“Trial by Fire”

Roadside Attractions has released the trailer for “Trial by Fire,” which finds Jack O’Connell back in prison — onscreen, that is. The “Starred Up” and “Unbroken” star teams up with Laura Dern in Edward Zwick’s based-on-fact drama about a death-row inmate and an unlikely ally who did her utmost to exonerate him. Watch the trailer below.

Here’s the synopsis: “‘Trial by Fire’ is the true-life Texas story of the unlikely bond between an imprisoned death row inmate (Jack O’Connell) and a mother of two from Houston (Laura Dern) who, though facing staggering odds, fights mightily for his freedom. Cameron Todd Willingham, a poor, uneducated heavy metal devotee with a violent streak and a criminal record, is convicted of arson-related triple homicide in 1992. During his 12 years on death row, Elizabeth Gilbert, an improbable ally, uncovers questionable methods and illogical conclusions in his case, and battles with the state to expose suppressed evidence that could save him.”

In his Telluride review of the film, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote that “O’Connell never cheats our sympathies. The rest of the film doesn’t either. Geoffrey S. Fletcher’s functional script allows Willingham to mature during his 12 years on Death Row, and to repent for the way that he treated the women in his life, but it narrowly avoids the fatal mistake of making us feel like Willingham should be exonerated because he’s nice, and not because he’s innocent.”

Best known for films like “Glory,” “The Last Samurai,” and “Blood Diamond,” Zwick most recently directed “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”; he also won an Oscar for producing Best Picture winner “Shakespeare in Love.” O’Connell most recently appeared in the long-delayed “Tulip Fever” and Netflix’s miniseries “Godless,” whereas Dern has righly been recognized in recent years as pretty much everyone’s favorite actress.

Roadside Attractions will release “Trial by Fire” in theaters on May 17.

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