Strange Justice

Showtime, Haft Entertainment

Both stylized and substantive, the Showtime movie Strange Justice takes a distinctively different look at the 1991 face off between Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. Director Ernest Dickerson compels us to look at these events in a different way by highlighting the gamesmanship deployed by both sides. Even more tellingly, he heightens the drama of the Senate confirmation hearings with out-of-body depictions of key testimony. At one point, an indignant Thomas (played by Delroy Lindo) addresses the senators bare-chested while standing within inches of them. When he makes his famous “high-tech lynching” allegation, he uses his necktie as a noose. Mr. Lindo’s standout performance as Thomas is matched by Regina Taylor’s portrayal of Hill. And Mandy Patinkin excels in the role of Republican troubleshooter Kenneth Duberstein, who was brought in to polish Thomas’ image. Produced by Steven Haft, scripted by Jacob Epstein and adapted from the book by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, Strange Justice wisely doesn’t take sides. Instead it seeks to unwrap the “packaging” of truth, justice and the American way. Its coda comes from Duberstein, who says, “Undertakers and spin doctors. We’re never out of work.” For providing a provocative, thought-provoking look at a still-simmering controversy, a Peabody Award is presented to Showtime and Haft Entertainment for Strange Justice.