In a flawed universe, a flawed defense attorney fights a seemingly conclusive case of patricide. Based on this premise, Courtney Hunt’s courtroom thriller, ‘The Whole Truth,’ packs enough drama and suspense to keep one tied to a chair. The whole truth of the case seems evasive, but the shocking ending unfolds a meticulously planned murder plot. While the whodunit boils slowly for most of the narrative, the final moments erupt in all their visceral glory and leave several pertinent questions in their wake. If you are unable to get your head around the ending of the film, we shall try to tie the loose ends for you. SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Whole Truth Plot Synopsis
Richard Ramsey (Keanu Reeves) fights a case of patricide. The accused in question is Mike Lassiter (Gabriel Basso), the tight-lipped son of an affluent lawyer, Boone Lassiter (Jim Belushi), and his wife Loretta Lassiter (Renée Zellweger). Boone was found dead in his own home with a stab wound right below the heart. The case against Mike is seemingly rock-solid, as there are witnesses who can testify to Mike killing his father. Mike’s fingerprint is found on the body and the murder weapon, and to top it off, Mike has pleaded guilty to the murder.
The police officer who visited the crime scene has heard Mike saying, “I should have done this a long time ago.” Ramsey’s position in the case is worth noting – he is a friend and colleague of the deceased, while he is appointed by the wife of the deceased for the acquittal of her only son. This premise sets off an intriguing courtroom drama with mind-bending twists and turns. As the courtroom hearing goes on, we are taken to the moment of rupture through flashbacks. The first witness is Angela Morley, a flight attendant working as part of a private jet crew.
As she answers questions about the return journey of Mike and Boone from a trip to Stanford, we are shown in flashbacks what seems like a coldness between the father and son. Given Mike’s adolescent predisposition, it is perhaps nothing out of the ordinary. But as the limo driver comes to tell his tale, we are guided by visual cues to the personal life of Boone. Boone was a man of questionable character – he had affairs with several women, he was arrogant and hot-headed, and he treated his wife with little respect.
Ramsey, in the meantime, has taken under his wing living lie detector Janelle Brady (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), daughter of known lawyer Walter Brady. She thinks that both the limo driver and the flight attendant are concealing the truth. Loretta comes on the podium to testify and confirm the vile nature of her deceased husband. As she revisits the moment of rupture, we get to know that Loretta was physically abused by Boone on the day of his death. Following the fight, she went to take a shower, and when she came back, Mike had apparently already done the deed. Ramsey presents pictures of Loretta’s bruised body as evidence before the court.
Mike decides to break his quiet and present a statement before the court. He authenticates all the witnesses’ statements and goes on to add that he has killed Boone not to protect Loretta but himself. The stupefied court hears his version of the truth. According to Mike, he had been physically molested and raped by his father from early adolescence, and the act of killing was a desperate attempt to save himself from his father. The prosecution summons Angela Morley to confirm Mike’s narrative, and after being judicially questioned by Janelle, the attendant admits to spending a bit too much time in the cockpit. The case is won. However, the whole truth seems to be something else altogether.
The Whole Truth Ending: Who Killed Boone?
This is the question that the film wants you to ask. While the case seems quite solid on the outset, there seem to be some bitter truths lurking under the surface. While it has been decided from the beginning that Mike is the killer, Janelle is the first one to sense the involvement of Loretta in the act of crime. When she confronts Loretta, she seems evasive. However, some disparities are planted throughout the film. Before the prosecutor even finishes his question, the detective says that it is the spouse who is the primary suspect. However, after talking to the policewoman, he was led to believe otherwise.
To think of it, Mike’s statement “I should have done this a long time ago” shows hatred towards his father but does not prove his involvement in the murder. What about the fingerprints, one would ask. If you can recall, while the forensic scientist does not divulge anything before the court, the flashbacks indicate an inconsistency between Loretta’s testimonial and the strands of hair found from the scene. Moreover, when we see Mike’s friend Alex playing peeping tom in the flashbacks, we perceive brutality in Boone’s treatment of Loretta, but not a single shot shows Boone hitting Loretta. Even Mike cannot believe this bit and asks his mother to be reassured.
After the case is won, Mike confronts Ramsey in the bathroom about the watch found at the crime scene. In a flashback, Ramsey’s watch is shortly seen under the bed before being picked up by Loretta with utmost dexterity. As the final moments unfold, we see the truth with our own bare eyes as a guilty Ramsey revisits the incident. We see a hooded Ramsey stabbing Boone as he gets back from the trip; while in the bathroom, Loretta hits herself to use the bruise marks as evidence. Mike returns from soccer practice earlier than usual, which gives the partners in crime no time for the cover-up.
Are Ramsey and Loretta Having an Affair?
There is a rationale behind every act of murder, and especially, as the prosecutor points out, in a case of first-degree premeditated murder. As often happens in crimes of passion, Ramsey and Loretta are likely having an affair. Something about Ramsey bugs the audience right from the beginning. Ramsey is seemingly involved in the case on a personal level and yet chooses to act distant. His conversations with Loretta outside court hearings are often characterized by an uneasiness. He seems to be under some kind of pressure, and when Janelle confronts him about Loretta towards the end, he dismisses her by saying their foremost duty is to win an acquittal for Mike.
At the end of the film, when Ramsey recollects his conversation with Boone, the audience gets to overhear some of it. Boone suspected that Loretta is having an affair, and Ramsey jumps on to say that he should get a divorce filed. Boone was perhaps already aware of Ramsey and Loretta’s affair and confronted Ramsey to see his reaction. When the lovers suspected that Boone knew about their affair, they planned together to move him out of the picture.
Was Mike Really Molested by His Father?
In Mike’s statement before the court, he finds his tongue to disclose that Boone attempted to rape him on the day of Boone’s murder. He goes on to say that since he was 12 years old, Boone molested him on many occasions, including the day of the return flight. The court brings in the flight attendant for a second testimonial.
She begins by denying the allegations made against Boone, but following Janelle’s line of questioning, she admits to spending around 10 minutes in the cockpit with the pilot and the co-pilot. As it turns out, she also happens to date Ginsburg, the co-pilot, and shortly after, she recollects that her time spent in the cockpit may be more than 10 minutes. Boone could have raped his juvenile son in the time window, and now the defendants have a case.
However, it is more likely that the molestation charge is a fabrication conjured by Mike. A promising legal prodigy like Mike would not find it difficult to spot the fissures in the legal system. He does not divulge the fact in the beginning since the prosecutor would get the upper hand. Ultimately, it comes down to Mike’s statement against Morley’s, and an adequate amount of cunning makes Mike win the case for himself. However, in the scene where Mike confronts Ramsey, it becomes clear that Mike was not raped by his father.
Mike accuses Ramsey of killing Boone, and Ramsey mildly retaliates by reminding Mike that he spoke under oath. Mike bursts out by saying that he did not trash Boone’s memory and branded himself a killer raped by his father. In saying these words, he accuses Ramsey of being responsible for the shameful situation of his life. However, following Alex’s testimony, we know that Mike’s relationship with Boone took a downside turn months before the backyard incident, and we do not know why.
Read More: Where Was The Whole Truth Filmed?