Roadside Attractions has released the first trailer for Trial by Fire. This comes from director Edward Zwick, who has somewhat quietly been behind the camera for some excellent dramas over the past decade or so that didn’t earn quite as much attention as some of his earlier work, such as Glory, Courage Under Fire or Blood Diamond. But this looks to be in line with what the filmmaker does best, and he’s aided by two very talented performers in front of the camera in Laura Dern and Jack O’Connell.
This initial look at the real-life drama is harrowing and gut-wrenching. We kick off with a man being sentenced to death for a grizzly and horrible murder, which he may or may not have actually committed. It’s an ugly look at life in prison and a touching look at an unlikely friendship. This thing is drenched in human emotion. It looks like a powerful display of acting talent and a story that could very well end in the need for tissues.
Trial by Fire is a real-life tale that centers on an unlikely bond between an imprisoned death row inmate (Jack O’Connell) and a mother of two from Houston (Laura Dern). Cameron Todd Willingham was a poor heavy metal lover who wasn’t terribly well educated and had a violent streak to go along with his criminal record. He was convicted of arson, which resulted in the deaths of three people, his family, in 1992. During his 12 years on death row, Elizabeth Gilbert fights for his freedom as she uncovers certain elements of his case that don’t add up. She battles with the state to expose suppressed evidence that could have saved him, to no avail. The question has loomed ever since his execution as to whether or not the state of Texas may have sent an innocent man to his death.
Laura Dern, whose credits include Jurassic Park and Big Little Lies, amongst many others, has consistently turned in excellent performances throughout her career and this looks to be no exception, based on the trailer. As for Jack O’Connell, he may not have the name recognition but, Transformers: Age of Extinction aside, he’s proven himself to be a terrific actor as well. Movies like Sing Street and Free Fire are fine examples of his work. Couple that with a guy like Edward Zwick, who has also been behind movies such as The Last Samurai and the probably underseen Pawn Sacrifice, and this seems like an under the radar flick worth putting on the radar.
In addition to the trailer, the studio has also released a new poster, which we’ve also included below. Kathryn Dean, Marshall Herskovitz serve as executive producers, with Allyn Stewart, Kipp Nelson, Edward Zwick and Alex Soros also on board as producers. The script comes from Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious). Trial By Fire is set to hit theaters on May 17. Be sure to check out the new trailer from the RoadsideFlix YouTube channel below.