Making fictional movies about real-life events that have become viral has always been an easy way to make content. Television networks used to do this quite a lot in the 90s and early 2000s. These movies have to be made with a very fast turnout. It is almost mandatory, because if you take too much time making them, then they become as irrelevant as the event they are trying to portray. So, Tubi did the job and has come up with a movie just a couple of months after the real event was done. This is a review of Hot Take: The Depp/Heard Trial, a Tubi Original Film.
Tubi is one of those free streaming services that go around and that you can see every once in a while if you’re looking to reinstall your Netflix, or HBO Max app. Tubi, Crackled, and The Roku Channel are some of the most popular free streaming platforms on the market. Their catalogs basically share the exact number of movies and shows, and they often come from cheap libraries. So, if you want to check them out, you will realize that they are the same exact movies from years ago and be told that they are the flagships of the service.
Hot Take: The Depp/Heard Trial is a film directed by Sara Lohman and stars Mark Hapka and Megan Davis. The film tells the story of the infamous trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard a couple of months ago. A viral circus that saturated the internet and the media for as long as it lasted, then disappeared immediately from people’s minds. The movie plays out the trial in the same way that it was seen over the internet, and then recreates some of the stories told during the trial using the actors chosen for this movie.
Hot Take: The Depp/Heard Trial isn’t the worst movie ever, but the film never justifies its existence. Unlike many other real-life events that have been turned into films, most of the audiences that could be interested in this movie have already seen it, in real life. In the past, events like this happened behind closed doors, and so a dramatic recreation of the events could be justified to complement people’s imaginations. Here, the effect is the opposite. We have already seen the trial in detail, so the movie feels more like a YouTube recap than anything else.
So, the movie feels completely unnecessary, but the actors and the crew are only doing their job, and they are not awful about it. Mark Hapka does a good impersonation of Johnny Depp, and sometimes, from different points of view, he really looks like the Pirates of the Caribbean actor. Hapka is really trying to move and talk like Depp, and he manages to be convincing plenty of times. It isn’t easy to play someone as well known as Depp and still do a good job.
The same could be said for Megan Davis in the role of Amber Heard. Unlike Hapka, Davis has the disadvantage that she doesn’t look nearly as much to Amber Heard, and so she has to compensate in other ways. Her voice is basically the same as Amber Heard’s voice. If you close your eyes while watching this movie, you could even mistake her for being the real Amber Heard. So, she nails the voice and part of the demeanor. Davis is a competent actress, but she is trapped in an already obsolete movie.
Visually, we are clearly facing a low-budget production that looks and feels exactly like the TV movies of old, the same ones that the Hallmark Channel keeps producing even to this day. The sets look small, and the recreation of big events like red carpets or vacations to faraway and expensive resorts is all truncated and done by using movie magic. You can definitely use your suspension of disbelief while going through the movie, but do you have to? Again, you don’t need to watch this movie if what you really want is to learn and see the trial.
If there is something to be applauded about the movie, it is that it doesn’t take a stand on who was wrong or right in the trial. The movie presents the declarations of both Depp and Heard as facts, contradictory ones. They are both lying and telling the truth from their respective points of view. However, only really they know what happened during their relationship. Anything they say to the public should be taken with a grain of salt, and only if you are willing to trust people who earn their bread by lying while becoming and behaving like other people.
In the end, Hot Take: The Depp/Heard Trial doesn’t really work as a film that can bring some sort of revelation to the case it tries to explore. The film’s low production values really hurt the believability of everything happening on screen, and while the actors aren’t bad, they cannot really pull off recreating such big personalities for this movie. At least, the impartial stand the movie takes on the case feels fresh and something not many others took while the trial was in progress.