Review: ‘The Hour of the Pig’

Any lawyer who has ever taken his client for swine will have the last laugh watching The Hour of the Pig, a droll, deftly acted period piece based on the fact that in medieval France animals were accused of crimes and tried in court with counsel.

Any lawyer who has ever taken his client for swine will have the last laugh watching The Hour of the Pig, a droll, deftly acted period piece based on the fact that in medieval France animals were accused of crimes and tried in court with counsel.

An industrious young defense lawyer, Courtois (Colin Firth), has left Paris for the allegedly purer framework of the boondocks. In the village of Abbeville there’s a long-established prosecuting attorney (Donald Pleasence). Courtois soon learns that superstition, the Church and the local nobleman (Nicol Williamson) have enormous influence. He strikes up a useful friendship with a hypocritical local clergyman (Ian Holm).

When a band of Jewish gypsies enters the town, and their prize pig is arrested and accused of killing a young boy, exotic dark-skinned Samira (Amina Annabi) implores Courtois to get the pig acquitted, offering her womanly charms in exchange.

Clever dialogue, laced with frank and bawdy observations, is delivered in ultra-dry style. Holm and Williamson are excellent in their roles, and supports are spirited, particularly Jim Carter as Firth’s ironic law clerk and Lysette Anthony as Williamson’s goofy daughter.

The Hour of the Pig

UK - France

Production

BBC/CiBy 2000. Dir Leslie Megahey; Producer David M. Thompson; Screenplay Leslie Megahey; Camera John Hooper; Editor Isabelle Dedieu; Music Alexandre Desplat Art Dir Bruce Macadie

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1994. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Colin Firth Ian Holm Donald Pleasence Nicol Williamson Lysette Anthony Amina Annabi
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