With Robert Redford‘s The Conspirator only two days away from its first Toronto Film Festival showing (the first public screening being on Saturday at Roy Thomson Hall), I’m reposting what I wrote last April about the film’s potential, and about James Solomon‘s script in particular:

“The calibre of Robin Wright Penn‘s performance as Mary Surratt, the rooming-house operator who was wrongly executed for allegedly conspiring with John Wilkes Booth and others to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, is unknown. But last night I read a shooting draft of James Solomon’s The Conspirator, the Robert Redford-directed drama about Surratt’s trial, and it’s obviously a sturdily-written, well-burnished thing. And there’s no missing the grace and gravitas woven into Surratt’s character.

“Half the work has been done, I’m saying, for Penn. All she has to do is play Surratt in a straight and solid manner, and she’s got a Best Actress nomination all but sewn up. If, that is, The Conspirator lands a distributor (which it almost certainly will) and comes out in the late fall or early winter, and gets a good campaign going, etc.

“Redford may or may not have have peaked as a director (his last seriously strong film was ’94’s Quiz Show), but he’s always been good with actors. I’m basically saying that Solomon’s script is so fundamentally solid that all Redford has to do is get the period details right, shoot it handsomely and let his quality-level cast do what it does best, and he’s pretty much home free.”