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Barbet Schroeder Takes On 'Terror's Advocate'

The latest from French filmmaker Barbet Schroeder (Single White Female, Reversal of Fortune) is titled L'Avocat de la Terreur — which is being released in the U.S. as Terror's Advocate.

It's a documentary about the French lawyer Jacques Verges, best known for defending internationally reviled figures: war criminals, militants and yes, terrorists; his clients have included the Gestapo officer Klaus Barbie and Saddam Hussein.

Vogue film critic John Powers says the film is sprawling, riveting account of the many faces of evil — and that its "enthrallingly sinister" subject, for all his appalling associations, emerges as "a genuinely brilliant provocateur."

True, Verges' self-satisfied performance in this film "makes every lawyer joke you've ever heard seem eminently fair," Powers says. But his sophistries could help us to sharpen our own thinking about terror and justice.

Copyright 2022 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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John Powers is the pop culture and critic-at-large on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. He previously served for six years as the film critic.