An ambitious young criminal lawyer Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) lives in the US state of Florida, who has not yet lost a single case. He is really good at his job and, knowing this, is not too surprised when he, a provincial celebrity, is invited to work in New York by the head of a large legal concern, John Milton (Al Pacino). Kevin and his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) are settled in a luxurious apartment in a Manhattan mansion; the hero is paid $400 an hour and lured with promises of partnerships in the firm.
Blinded by high fees, the location of the boss and all the future prospects, the protagonist uses his talent to save patented villains from just punishment. At the same time, Kevin does not even notice how he is gradually losing a loved one. He does not see that his life no longer belongs to him: he is controlled like a pawn on a chessboard, and stubbornly led to the eighth horizontal, where he is about to cease to be himself …
“Advocatus diaboli” – this phrase was used by medieval scholastics to call a participant in a discussion who defended a deliberately wrong point of view, giving everyone else the opportunity to hone their counterarguments on it. In the film by Taylor Hackford (creator of Dolores Claiborne, a film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel), the viewer is returned to the literal meaning of the term. Thus, the viewer – unlike the main character of the picture – receives a hint in advance: Kevin’s employer is indeed the real Satan.
Why is the Prince of Darkness called John Milton this time? What’s the difference! The devil has a thousand faces and even more names; he is inventive, patient and consistent in achieving the goal. Perhaps Satan took the name of the author of Paradise Lost just for fun (you can’t deny the Evil One a peculiar sense of humor). Or, perhaps, in order to once again remind us of the plot of the poem about the expulsion of a person from paradise. And maybe also so that in the finale Kevin could say a quote from the poem: “Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.”
What is the movie “The Devil’s Advocate” about?
“Empathy is a wonderful feeling, but there is no place for it in the legislative system.” This idea is at the heart of the film “The Devil’s Advocate”, which, although it did not become a cult, still gained crowds of fans.
The Devil’s Advocate is based on the novel of the same name by American writer and screenwriter Andrew Nyderman. The book was first published in 1990. Neiderman believed in his work so much that he independently turned to Warner Brothers with a proposal for its film adaptation.
The book begins with a short prologue in which a certain lawyer, Richard Jeffrey, wins the case. Arriving home, he reminisces about the death of his wife Gloria, who died in childbirth. In a state of severe depression, Richard is thrown out of the window of the 15th floor … And then the main events begin.
Brief summary of the film. “The Devil’s Advocate” begins with a young but famously victorious lawyer, Kevin Lomax, defending teacher Gatiss, who is accused of harassing students. At the trial, Lomax comes to the conclusion that the defendant, whom he sincerely considered the victim of a slander, is really guilty.
Not wanting to lose, Kevin disregards justice and convinces the jury that the schoolgirl who went to court has already known the physical side of love, and only out of dislike for the old teacher invented the charge. Through blackmail, she persuaded other girls to slander the teacher. As a result, Gatiss was acquitted, and Kevin won another case.
At a party, Lomax is approached by a strange man who offers him a one-time job at a John Milton law firm specializing in protecting the interests of millionaires. Kevin had to pick a jury. Seeing the check, the lawyer agrees. The next day, Lomax visits his deeply religious mother and informs her of the lucrative offer he has received. However, the woman disapproves of this decision of her son.
Having coped with the test task, Lomax receives an offer to work permanently in Milton’s company. Together with his beautiful wife Mary Ann, Kevin moves to New York. During a tour of the company, Kevin notices a beautiful girl and can’t get her out of his head. After the tour, Kevin met the boss and is delighted with him.
Soon he gets his first case. Having put all his efforts into building a line of defense, Lomax seeks an acquittal in the case of violation of sanitary standards.
Soon after, Kevin and Mary Ann go to Milton’s party and at some point they get separated. The charming Milton approaches the girl, and she, like her husband, involuntarily falls under his influence.
Kevin goes to look for his wife, and meets the girl who captivated him at the first meeting – the beautiful Christabella. She makes it clear that the young lawyer is extremely nice to her, but he, shaking off the dope, goes to look for his wife. Milton intercepts him. Bringing a lawyer to his office, he entrusts him with the most important case – to defend in court the case of a businessman accused of a triple murder. Kevin accepts the case: he wants to prove to the boss that he was not mistaken in him.
After a series of seemingly unrelated events, Mary Ann develops a nervous breakdown. She desperately asks Kevin to give up his job and return to his hometown with her, but he, absorbed in a new life, refuses.
Mary Ann’s condition worsens, and on the advice of Milton, Lomax transfers her to the care of doctors. The same Milton insinuatingly suggests that the lawyer abandon the case, take a vacation and spend it next to his wife. But Kevin refuses, and, step by step, gradually sinks to the very bottom of deceit and vice.
After a little investigation, he finds out that his handsome and rich client is indeed a terrible killer. Upon learning of this, Milton offers him to lose the case, but Lomax again refuses: he never loses …
“The Devil’s Advocate” plot explained
The film has no hidden meaning, everything lies on the surface. In fact, the picture continues the theme of Dickens’ Great Expectations and mercilessly goes through the “American Dream”, which, according to the director, makes no sense.
But this does not mean that “The Devil’s Advocate” is a simple film: in all analyzes and reviews it is emphasized that the picture has a powerful serious idea and, in fact, philosophical content.
“Devil’s Advocate” is not just a figurative stable expression, but a real position in the court of the Inquisition of medieval Europe, whose duties included protecting those accused of witchcraft and connections with Satan. That is, the devil’s advocate really officially represented the interests of Satan in court.
Kevin Lomax is a talented young lawyer who grew up without a father, under the supervision of an overly religious mother. He is confident, attractive, ambitious. The last property became fatal for him.
In a complete family, the mother gives the child love, and the father sets certain boundaries. Kevin, as it turned out towards the end of the film, had problems with boundaries, and with support, and with love too.
Kevin got a good job, but, in fact, was tempted by big money and high status. Getting more and more carried away, he “scored” on common sense and stopped noticing the area of his competence. As a result, ambition and vanity led Kevin into a trap. A force that is not based on common sense, inner values and a moral and ethical code becomes a grenade in the hands of a monkey. The power that Kevin possessed became his curse.
In Milton, Kevin finds a father figure, and tries his best not to disappoint him. For some reason, he wants the charismatic boss to be proud of him.
The search for the approval of the newfound “father” becomes more important than all the life values on which he relied before. His own significance becomes more important for him than love, and his own strength is more important than the purpose of its application.
Milton, on the other hand, skillfully plays on the ambitions and vanity of a young lawyer, playing along with him from time to time. Thus, he manipulates Kevin and in the end achieves his complete submission – in every sense.
A child who grew up in a complete family and has before his eyes the image of a real father learns to understand the zone of human competence. He also looks for a zone of opportunities adequate to a person – and, of course, responsibility. Kevin did not have a real father, and throughout the film, until the very end, he was thrown from one extreme to another: he was fascinated and disappointed, gained faith in himself, and then again threw himself into the abyss of despair and impotence.
The final turned out to be a serious test for Kevin. He had to make a decision: remain captive to his own dependence on the approval and illusion of omnipotence, or recognize his real value and power and take responsibility for his actions and choices on himself. He had to accept his dark side and learn how to manage it – that is, become a mature person. Throughout the film, he constantly chose between his inner child and inner parent, but he was still afraid to enter the field of his real responsibility and boundaries.
To pass this exam, the hero had to learn how to evaluate himself correctly. He also had to take away the function of self-approval and realize his limitations – that is, get out of the paradigm of child-adolescent omnipotence and move into a mature understanding of his boundaries and areas of competence.
In the absence of a good example in the form of parents (in this case, more of a father), Kevin was constantly captivated by the temptations, temptations and addictions that made up his personal hell. And he did not approach the choice on his own – and made it by force …
The meaning of life lies in the fact that a person is free in his will – this is the answer to many questions and doubts. Well, if a person does not know what is good and what is bad, then only conscience can suggest the right choice.
Disobedience to the call of conscience makes itself felt instantly: it happens either through remorse, or through more difficult and deplorable life lessons. As a result, the young talented lawyer Kevin Lomax was convinced.
“The Devil’s Advocate” ending explained
The end of The Devil’s Advocate is quite controversial. In the finale, Kevin’s wife Mary-Ann took her own life. The lawyer went to Milton, who confessed that he abused the girl.
Enraged, Lomax fired at the boss, but the bullets did not cause him any harm. With a grin, Milton said that he could not die, to which Lomax called him the devil.
Milton tells a discouraged Lomax that he is his father, and all this time he has been “leading” him, that is, arranging his career properly. He needed all this in order to prepare the coming of the Antichrist, and Kevin and Christabella, his paternal brother and sister, were to become his parents.
In response to this, Kevin shot himself in the head, which caused the fallen angel’s fiery rage. The beautiful Christabella crumbled to dust, and Kevin woke up from a vision.
He was surprised to find that he was in the courtroom, that his wife was alive and well, and, most importantly, that the sentence against Gatiss had not yet been announced. Realizing that he was given a second chance, Kevin refused to defend Gatiss, actually putting an end to his career.
When he left the courthouse, a journalist approached him asking for an interview and promising to make him a “star”. And Kevin, after hesitating, agreed. At that moment, the journalist turned into Milton, who said: “Vanity is one of my favorite sins.”
The meaning of the ending of the film “The Devil’s Advocate” is as follows: “the claw is stuck – the whole bird is abyss.” The ending has several interpretations. Some viewers offer this explanation: Kevin initially had no choice. Initially, everything went according to the devil’s plan. The Father of Lies is also a skilled magician who created the illusion of choice, and Kevin fell for this trick…
Another explanation for the ending (and its clue) looks like this: it all depended on whether Kevin agreed to the interview or not. To agree is to feed the demon of vanity and pride again. And this is a direct path to the devil’s network. After all, the main quality (and weapon) of the devil is precisely pride.