True story of a nun whose anti-death penalty beliefs put her in moral crisis with grieving victims when she becomes the spiritual advisor to a death-row murderer. Based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean, Sarandon stars as the nun who develops a relationship of understanding with inmate Poncelet (Penn), unwavering in her Christian beliefs even though Penn's character shows little or no remorse for the two young lovers he was accused of murdering. Penn offers one of the best performances (but worst hair-dos) of his career, while writer/director Robbins presents both sides of the death-penalty issue mingled with simple human compassion.
Wagnerian Celebration of Death shanahan at 2008-08-11 06:10:42
The notion that this film is some kind of serious meditation on capital punishment is hard to understand. The repeated flashbacks to the murder scene are not only gratuitous (how many times do we need to see a murder/rape to get the message?), they border on a macabre preoccupation with violence and death. The moody rhythm of the film, and the "crescendo" execution scene (another lingering scene that suggests fascination with death), are manipulative and ham-fisted. Give us a sharp, tragic look - like "I Want to Live" - at the death penalty; or a thoughtful meditation on murder and the murderer - there's a gap Hollywood has never filled. Don't give us Wagner.