The Trials of Cate McCall; Kate Beckinsale’s Finest Performance

source: Sundance Now

In The Trials of Cate McCall, Cat McCall (Kate Beckinsale –Underworld Franchise, Stonehearst Asylum, The Widow TV Series) was once a top-notch lawyer. But recently she has lost her status, her job, her daughter and has been disbarred. Now doing community service at legal aid, Cate must defend a young lady, Lacey (Anna Schafer but credited as Anna Anissimova – The Whistleblower) who is accused of killing another woman. McCall doesn’t want the case. But to get reinstated into the bar, her child back and her life on track again, she takes the case. While trying the case, along with other battles she’s facing, McCall has nothing before her but an uphill battle.


Kate Beckinsale is one of those actresses you can’t keep your eyes off of. I really enjoyed her in the Underworld franchise and Stonehearst Asylum (currently streaming on Netflix and I highly recommend this movie). She brings all her characters to life to where you forget it’s Beckinsale but rather whomever she’s portraying, and she gives no less in this 2014 movie.


Directed by Karen Moncrieff, The Trials Of Cate McCall is just that, Cate McCalls’s trials. As the tagline goes, “Truth is on trial. Everyone is a witness“. That tagline could be applied to Cate, for she’s constantly being watched, by the courts, in the supervised visits with her daughter and her former law firm. She is being tried in the court of opinions. It could also be applied to the trial itself where McCall must defend someone who committed a heinous crime. And there’s Cate herself, judging herself, her decisions and her fight to win back her daughter.

Nick Nolte plays Bridges, another lawyer who helps McCall with the case and her life. And James Cromwell as Justice Sumpter, someone McCall knows from a seminar she attended that he was presenting. Both actors add to the story of McCall in different ways that’s beneficial and possibly, detrimental to McCall, personally and professionally.


I read reviews in which people said the movie is predictable at times, yet, keeps your interest, and that it does. The flow is at a steady pass. You didn’t get a chance to think about what just took place before something else happens. Beckinsale gives another stellar performance, and as mentioned, you can’t keep your eyes off her. I think what does it for Beckinsale in this role is she has the look like she’s got everything under control but she doesn’t, and she states this in the movie. No matter how hard she tries and takes one step forward, she ends up taking two steps back.

The directing adds to the effect of the movie. Moncrieff has directed episodes of Thirteen Reasons Why (S1 and S2 are currently on Netflix), and an episode of Six Feet Under. Moncrieff is also an actress, so having an eye for what brings out a scene, she definitely has that. Directors have a way of telling a story that may not be present in the script and Moncrieff has that skill. I think this is what makes the movie even more enjoyable to watch. Moncrieff knows how to take what could possibly be boring scenes and make them intense.

I recommend The Trials of Cate McCall currently streaming on the Sundance Now app (available in the App store on iOS and Google Play for Andriod). I give the film 5 out of 5 stars


The Trials of Cate McCall
Directed by: Karen Moncrieff
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Nick Nolte, James Cromwell
Released: 2014
IMDB score: 6.3/10
Streaming: Sundance Now app

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