August 30, 1999 12:00 PM

Showtime (Sun., Aug. 29, 8 p.m. ET)

Show of the week

In 1991 the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings left the country sharply divided over whether the Supreme Court nominee had sexually harassed his former subordinate. And the audience isn’t likely to reach a unanimous verdict on this adaptation of Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson’s searching 1994 book about the case. Some will criticize director Ernest Dickerson (Juice) for his legerdemain with news footage, particularly a Forrest Gump moment when Delroy Lindo, who plays Thomas, appears to be standing beside President Bush. Some will fault the film maker’s decision to present the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of Thomas and Hill (Regina Taylor) as stylized psychodrama. Here, when Thomas portrays himself as the victim of a “high-tech lynching,” he strips off his shirt and turns his necktie into a noose.

But none can deny the strength of the lead performances: Lindo, proud, enigmatic and indignant; Taylor, profoundly human as a woman torn between the demands of conscience and the desire for privacy; and a Machiavellian Mandy Patinkin as Kenneth Duberstein, the spin doctor steering Thomas toward confirmation.

Bottom Line: Argue about it, but see it

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