Saturday 14 January 2023

Movie Review: Freedomland (2006)

Genre: Crime Investigation Psychological Mystery
Director: Joe Roth
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Julianne Moore, Edie Falco
Running Time: 113 minutes

Synopsis: Detective Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson) keeps a sympathetic eye on the low-income Armstrong complex in the black community of Dempsey, New Jersey. Brenda Martin (Julianne Moore), a troubled white woman from the adjacent community of Gannon, claims she was car-jacked near Armstrong with her four year old child in the car. Although Lorenzo does not fully believe Brenda, police swarm Armstrong to flush out a suspect, igniting racial tensions. Lorenzo tries to keep a lid on the situation, and receives help from Karen (Edie Falco), who heads a parent group dedicated to finding missing children.

What Works Well: The crackdown of white police officers on black residents is depicted with unblinking fury. Despite wayward character definition, Julianne Moore's acting is often sublime, and Edie Falco also shines in a grounded supporting role.

What Does Not Work As Well: Richard Price's script, based on his book, is embroiled in an identity crisis. This is a crime mystery where no one seems interested in collecting evidence or investigating the crime, and a psychological conundrum where lies clash with assertions but no professional assessment is deployed. The far-fetched racism flashpoint is thrown in almost out of context. Unsurprisingly the actors appear uncertain how their words and actions fit into any cohesive flow. The resolution, once revealed, is underwhelming and trapped in a tell-but-don't-show package.

Conclusion: Competing ideas flounder in a muddled structure.

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