Film review by: Witney Seibold


            Freedomland is an awful film. It may start with a neat idea and a good cast (Julianne Moore, Samuel L. Jackson), but the overacting, bad directing and bad editing turn what could have been a taut commentary on race and crime, into a swirling food processor of overacting, murky lighting, noise, and half-baked thriller elements. The film has a few slight saving graces, mostly in the forms of Edie Falco and Ron Eldard, giving their all in supporting roles, but they’re not enough to elevate anything. The film kicks around up on the screen like a dying fish, gasping and floundering, and, by the end, it lays dead and smelly in front of you. I guess we can’t expect much from director Joe Roth, the auteur behind Christmas with the Kranks and Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise.

            The aforementioned neat idea: A white mother (Moore), possibly a drug addict, and certainly not all there, has her car stolen with her four-year-old son in the backseat, blaming it on a generic black man. A borderline-incompetent cop with the unlikely name of Lorenzo Council (Jackson) is called to investigate this carjacking. Lorenzo knows that mama is lying about something, but has to act like he believes her until the truth comes out. The nearby New Jersey black slum begins boiling with racial tension at the investigation. A group of independent missing-children investigators (Falco, etc.) are called in at one point. “Freedomland” is a huge abandoned orphanage where our heroes go searching for our missing child.

So in the setup, we have crime, palpable and unforced racial tension, a chance for Julianne Moore to do some capitol-A Acting, and a huge metaphor in the form of a haunted-house-looking building. And in the execution, we have something of a horror. The two leads have horrible dialogue, and Moore, bless her heart, over-shrieks and over-bawls to horrifying effect. The editing and photography and pounding unnecessary score makes it feel less like a film, and more like we’re in the middle of a car crash. By the time the big plot twist came at the end, I was less freed by a final solution, and just relieved that the film would soon be over.

February 17th, Columbia Pictures

Published in: on August 12, 2008 at 10:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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