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Johnny vs Amber review: What’s really the point of this documentary on one of the most-watched trials?

The two-part documentary that is now streaming on discovery+ presents Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s version of events separately, with co-operation of his legal team, but not hers

Johnny vs Amber review: What’s really the point of this documentary on one of the most-watched trials?
A two-part documentary on the trial that had a much-publicized live telecast, is now on discovery+
  • Prathibha Joy

Last Updated: 04.07 PM, Sep 22, 2022


Story: After losing the lawsuit in London, against The Sun for branding him a wife-beater, Hollywood A-lister Johnny Depp takes ex-wife Amber Heard to court in a defamation suit, filed in retaliation to her Op-Ed piece about being a victim of domestic abuse. Amber did not name anyone in particular, but Johnny’s subsequent ‘temporary’ fall from grace was attributed as repercussion of the article. Filed in Fairfax County, where SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) rules don’t apply, instead of California, where both are domiciled.

Review: Why would anyone invest time, money and effort on a documentary about the most-widely publicized trial of recent times? The Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial earlier this year was watched by millions across the globe in real time. Every media outlet worth its salt dissected every word that was spoken; nothing was out of the public eye. And yet, someone thought it was worthwhile to present all of these ‘facts’ yet again. There’s nothing new here, with the documentary reinforcing what Amber has been saying all along – she spoke up about abuse and paid the price for it.

After losing a defamation suit against The Sun, Johnny took the fight to ex-wife Amber, which he won after six weeks of trial, in which the jurors were allowed to return home every day. Apparently, a request to not go on social media and follow the case was what the judge told the jurors to do for the duration of the trial. Right! Like that is even remotely possible. Especially in a case like this, where every square inch of social media was teeming with viral videos from the trial as well as tonnes of opinions, most of which were, strangely, pro-Johnny. And, well, we all know how the case played out. He won.

When the case was going on in the US, I caught the occasional update and wondered why there was an outpouring of love for Johnny, when, clearly, he isn’t the gentleman that his legal team desperately tried to establish him as. He’s got problems, and massive ones at that, no doubt, and so does she. Yet the world seemed to like Johnny’s bad-boy image and despised her. She wasn’t measured with the same yardstick he was. That’s the injustice meted out to her, which, the documentary establishes, to a certain extent, through the testimonies of experts who covered or followed the trial extensively.

Verdict: When a colleague mentioned that there’s a new documentary about the Johnny vs Amber trial, both of us wondered about the point of such an exercise. Having watched the two episodes, frankly, I felt it was pretty pointless. I am no more enlightened than I was before watching it. If you were interested in the case and followed it on any form of media, don’t even bother. And if you were disinterested back then, you haven’t missed much. This isn’t worth the effort.