Forget everything you think you know about the founding fathers.
Based on the best-selling book by Pulitzer Prize winning author David McCullough, John Adams tells the story of the second president of the United States of America. I must admit that before I saw this historic 7 part HBO mini-series I knew little about Adams; the incredible man with a gift for speech and a deeply passionate duty to his country. History books tell of an era filled with vibrant characters like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, but the often overlooked Adams also played a very key role in the birth of a nation.
The film begins when Adams (portrayed by Paul Giamatti), a prominent Massachusetts lawyer, is asked to defend British soldiers accused of murder (the infamous "shot heard round the world" trial). Adams is a reluctant hero, carefully avoiding political issues that might embroil him in a revolution, but it is soon apparent even to him, that he must decide where his loyalties lie. Thus begins the drafting of a constitution (which Adams had a strong hand in creating), as well as a war, and his personal role as American Ambassador to France and England. Don't forget to watch for great supporting performances by Tom Wilkinson (Benjamin Franklin) as well as the superbly outstanding Stephen Dillane (Thomas Jefferson).
By Adams' side throughout the turmoil of independence and beyond, is his wife Abigail (played by Laura Linney). Thoughtful, beautiful, intelligent, and clearly the voice of reason to her sometimes volatile husband, Abigail is the perfect sounding-board for John. She stands by his side, even as she deals with her own trials of sickness, farm work, and a long separation. The relationship between husband and wife is wonderful to watch, especially as they only seem to grow closer through their mutual hardships and joys. Produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman (Band of Brothers), John Adams is a rich and compelling look at the life of a man who believed in an idea larger than himself. (A word of caution about the film. There are a few scenes of violence and nudity which may offend some viewers. One brutal scene of a tarring and feathering, as well as a non-anaesthetized surgery are especially hard to watch). However, I hope that won't deter you from seeing this wonderful film about an important, and sometimes overlooked chapter in history. Happy viewing!