Trusting one's intuition means seeing from the belly, as practitioners of Eastern religions put it. Most of us, however, have a hard time hearing this sacred inner voice in the din of directions and opinions all around us. "The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you," Dag Hammarskjold once noted, "the better you will hear what is sounding outside."

True Crime presents a riveting and deeply moral drama about a thoughtless and irresponsible man whose only saving grace is his catlike intuition. Steve Everett (Clint Eastwood) is an over-the-hill recovering alcoholic reporter for the Oakland Tribune who relishes the role of nonconformist. He's never played by the rules, and, not surprisingly, his career is in shambles. When Michele (Mary McCormack), a young colleague, dies in a car wreck, Bob (Denis Leary), the paper's assignment editor, orders Everett to finish a story she was working on. It is a human interest piece to be based on an interview that afternoon with Frank Beachum (Isaiah Washington), a black man scheduled to be executed that night by lethal injection at San Quentin for the murder of a pregnant convenience store clerk six years ago. As he looks into the court records and other stories on the case, the reporter's "nose" or intuition tells him that Beachum is innocent. Meeting the doomed man and his devoted wife (Lisa Gay Hamilton), he becomes more convinced that the truth of the crime has not been discovered. Racing against the clock, he sees this story as his last chance to redeem his own sad and sorry life.

The psychologically nuanced screenplay by Larry Gross, Paul Brickman, and Steven Schiff vividly conveys Everett's desperate struggle to stay true to his intuition when all the other voices are blasting away at his soul. His wife Barbara (Diana Venora) can't forgive his constant womanizing and wants a divorce; Bob is enraged at him for having slept with his wife; and Alan Mann (James Woods), editor of the paper, is reluctant to stick his neck out for a "smarmy" rebel who seems to revel in self-destruction.

Everett's no hero; he throws himself at younger women, is careless about his child's safety, and slips off the wagon at the end of a bad day. But nobody can ever be counted out. True Crime proves once again that Clint Eastwood is a formidable actor and director whose movies are consistently engaging and edifying.