What do you get when you take 2 parts Samuel L. Jackson, 1 part Julianne Moore and a quarter cup of Edie Falco? I’ll tell you what I got. I got a good cast. But when I let this mixture simmer in a pot of Richard Price and stirred constantly with my Joe Roth, I found I had a delectible development. Oh, by the way, the movie’s called Freedomland.
Brenda Martin (Moore) explains to Detective Lorenzo Council (Jackson) the details of her carjacking. One little bitty detail had been left out of her story to the other officers; her 4-year-old son was sleeping in the backseat. A search ensues, collecting manpower from the middle class town of Gannon, while the projects in Armstrong, where Martin’s carjacking took place, becomes the collective criminal in the minds of the majority of the citizens in and around the area. Racial tensions swell and burst right when Council’s suspicions of only having part of the story are finally confirmed.
I don’t want to talk too much about this movie and if you can see it without having too much of the plot revealed, you’re lucky. It’s a very good film; not on anyone’s top 10 list, but still very good. The kudos go to Richard Price who, not only wrote the screenplay, but also the novel on which it is based (Roth, mentioned above, directed, by the way). The characters are extremely strong. Even the minor characters have very solid voices. Even though you know from the beginning that the truth hasn’t fully come out, you’re still guessing until the end.
Sam Jackson, who, in my opinion, typically weaves between good acting and cliche quite a bit, strikes gold with his portrayal of Council. Catch him at the very end when he sees his son. I cried. Julianne Moore seems to have scores of fans, although I am not one of them. I feel that the attention she’s received from dramatic roles is typically undeserved. Her best acting, in my opinion, has been her comedic roles (The Big Lebowski, Cookie’s Fortune, Benny & Joon). Honestly, I was tired of her from the first scene, but then again, I admittedly have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to Moore. Aunjanue Ellis as Felicia, a woman from Armstrong, doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but shines when she does. The real diamond from an acting standpoint was undoubtedly Edie Falco. Watch for the scene where she’s telling Brenda Martin her personal story. Yes, it’s good writing, but Falco is beyond flawless; she’s pristine.
The racial clash does have a tendency to overplay its hand as well. It’s not over-the-top, though. All-in-all this story is nearly poetic from Council’s grasp of the moment in the hospital with Martin to the pensive attention Karen Collucci (Falco) leans to Council in the end.
This is absolutely a film that I would recommend to anyone; especially parents. You’ll kiss your little munchkins a little sweeter and hold them a little nearer tonight.