The Lawyer (2020) Movie Review: Builds a Solid Case

A masterful exercise in mixing tenuous political commentary with queer love.
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Given how The Lawyer is about two men who form an instant connection as they take part in online dating, it offers a dash of timeliness as we live in a period where people are forced to engage in social distancing. A practice that may seem daunting due to the uncertainty over who the real person behind their social media persona may be can in fact lead to being with a compatible person that shapes one’s life. 

People like Marius (Eimutis Kvosciauskas) are the kind who seem to yearn for such a connection. As he goes through his typical routine of working as a corporate lawyer while dealing with the sudden passing of his father, he finds solstice in conversing with Ali (Dogac Yildiz), a bisexual Syrian refugee living in Belgrade who operates as a sex-cam worker. As their virtual bond progresses, Marius travels to Belgrade to engage in romantic bliss with Ali while helping him migrate to a potential safe haven for queer people such as himself. 

While Ali is willing to let Marius come to his aide, he makes it abundantly clear he’s not a victim waiting to be saved to the point where he says he refuses to be the “Cinderella” to Marius’ “Prince Charming.” He’s unwilling to let Marius engage in an ego boost as Marius aids a person less privileged than himself. Additionally, actor Dogac Yildiz does a fine job at refusing to play Ali as a figure of martyrdom.  

Vildiz’ earnestness becomes a perfect contradiction to the abstruse nature of Eimutis Kvosciaukas’ Marius. He is clearly a lost soul, yet his initial arrogance and tendency to keep Ali at a ribbing distance makes it hard for him to figure out his genuine intentions. As their romance blossoms, though, what starts off as an act of nobility becomes a chance for two men who feel like outsiders in both their social circles and regions of origin to create their own safe space. 

Much like with his previous feature You Can’t Escape Lithuania, writer/director Romas Zabarauskas pulls off a delicate act of demonstrating political context in a disguised manner. By letting two men from countries with strict anti-LGBT laws form a close bond, it’s as if the filmmaker is saying how a simple love can overcome narrow-minded bigotry. Without the use of a climactic courtroom speech or scenes of our main characters marching on the streets to protest their right to love, Zabarauskas, along with his two lead actors, lets the bittersweet chemistry between Marius and Ali force one to feel a burning hope for them to have a peaceful conclusion.

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