While our high school classmates were drooling all over their pricey textbooks, we stayed wide awake in history class, brains on alert and hands writing pristine notes into our pads. Go ahead and laugh, slackers, but life lessons from the past are always fascinating, particularly when they’re from the Civil War era. That’s why the first trailer for Robert Redford’s upcoming historical drama The Conspirator caught our attention, even though some of the early screening buzz hasn’t been all that positive. James McAvoy stars as the hesitant lawyer of the only female (Robin Wright) charged in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln. The cast runs deep (including Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood, and Tom Wilkinson), and Redford’s pedigree affords the project an inherent heft. But there’s definitely room for preachiness, or flat-out dullness, in a period-set courtroom drama, so let’s hope that The Conspirator (tentatively scheduled for an April release) isn’t a cinematic mistrial.