Dead Man Walking Reviews
The film follows Sister Helen as she tries to help Matthew get an appeal or a lesser sentence, feeling that, though he may be guilty, he isn't deserving of the death penalty. Yes, the film does ultimately have a bias concerning capital punishment, but it also presents mutltiple and well developed viewpoints of the issue, and makes a good case for both. It does have it's bias, but it is also more subtle than I expected it to be. I figured it would be very blunt and bludgeon the audience of the head with it's message a la The Life of David Gale (which now that I think about it may not be quiote as good as I originally thought).
Given the well know npolitical views and activism of Penn, Robbins, and Sarandon, I was surprised with how the film ultimately treated the issues at hand, and am very thankful for how itr all ended up. Yes, it gets a bit heavy handed here and there, but it's hard to fault it too much since it's all done so well. The film doesn't make Matthew totally symapthetic, but it does humanize him, and the concluding scenes are very moving.
I had a personal moment of joy when I realized that the song playing during the big climax as Matthew is being led to the execution room was a version of a song I sang with my choir back in high schhol. I believe it's a Swedish funeral march, but I can't remember.
Okay, that little diversion aside, this is a very moving, thought provoking, and sensible cinematic treatment of a touchy subject. It isn't completely cliche free, but it is far more fresh than I was figuring it might be, and the performances are just wonderful. Sarandon won an Oscar, and Penn was nominated, and both are incredible. They bring a lot of depth to their roles, and play them very realistically. To support them are people such as R. Lee Ermey, Robert Prosky, Raymond J. Barry, and even Jack Black. All of them and the rest do a fine job fleshing out their various characters and giving life to people who, for various reasons, have strong opinions on capital punishment, and it's hard to really take sides because they all make you feel for them.
I'm torn on the rating, so let's be kind and give it somewhere between a 4 and 4 1/2. This is a very stirring and emotional drama that raises good questions, answers some, but leaves it up to the viewer to really decide what it should be. Given the material, that's all I could ask for, because this is an issue where it's best to leave it open (ultimately) because it's such a slippery slope. You should give this a watch.
This film is a curious artifact from that awkward faux-southern-gothic period in the 90s when John Grisham's career was taking off and Bruce Springsteen was working with "the other band"... and by the way, though the titular song worked for Philadelphia and, over a decade later, The Wrestler, here it was just another ho-hum number on the soundtrack of a movie that used virtually no music. It wasn't gripping enough to get by without.
The film picks up in its last half hour, but overall the dialogue crawls along, exposing way too much, and many of the scenes are hardly relevant: instead of showing us what's going on, Robbins uses the characters to tell us, and the result is a film that's dreary and no fun to watch. Huge letdown - I've wanted to see this since I was a teenager, and I'm glad I found it at the library for free; had I seen it in theatres, I'd probably still be complaining about having wasted the money.
Director: Tim Robbins
Summary: Scheduled to be put to death for brutally slaying two teens, Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) seeks the aid of activist nun Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon), a death-penalty opponent. She becomes Matthew's spiritual adviser and tries to halt the execution, even though Matthew's professed innocence is dubious. As the execution date draws ever closer, Sister Helen works to save Matthew's soul by getting him to confess -- and to ask divine forgiveness.
My Thoughts: "Of course Sean Penn would play the part so well, that he could make you feel some sort of sympathy for a murdering rapist. Such good acting from him and Susan Sarandon. They were really great together in this film. The film had me crying off and on throughout it. It's a very emotional film. You get to see both sides of the story. The two families who children were killed and raped and are looking for justice with the death penalty, a family trying to come to terms with losing a son, a brother to the death penalty, and a nun who's faith and heart is shaken by the whole ordeal. But what I liked most about the film is that it doesn't take sides. You see both stories and it lets you choose for yourself. But I think the film is more about coming to terms with what you do in life and accepting and acknowledging your faults and of course forgiving yourself and asking for forgiveness. A story of redemption. Definitely a film that is thought provoking."
An underestimated role for Penn I feel, who played a really believable role (particularly in the final scenes) as did Sarandon, who seemed to be so natual in this role.
However, Sean Penn for me won me over. He done a great job and out of him and Saradon I personally think it should of been him to win the award. The guy is impressive in every role he plays. He was very convincing through out this entire film. It's very well acted by all parties.
The movie itself turned out to be a truly emotional film - that even had me questioning what was "right in wrong" morally and politically. It takes you over the emotional rollercoaster not just from one side - showing how crime and the death penalty affects all party involved.
Coming out of the movie I still found myself a supporter of the death penalty but I gained much respect for those who face there justice with dignity and to those who must run the process.
This is an amazing film that anyone pro active or against the death penalty should consider checking out.
Based on the true story written by Sister Helen Prejean, she tells the true story of HER and her jouney with Matthew Poncelet. She wrote a novel about her befriending a prisoner whose on death row for murdering and raping two teen lovers six years ago. Poncelet claims to be inncocent and some way, Sister Helen beleives Matthew in every way possible. The story is about and written by Sister Helen Prejean. The movie starred Susan Sarandon as Sister Helen Prejean and Sean Penn as Matthew Poncelet.
The movie is probably one of the most powerful and downright amazing films i've ever seen. Plus the whole true story thing makes you even more into the movie. We'll for me it was that way.
Susan Sarandon won an acadamy award for her role as Sister Helen Prejean. She definatly deserved it! She was amazing! All her scenes were powerful and right off the bat amazing. We'll done! Sean Penn although did not win a fancy award. But i think he deserved one as well. His role was just as amazing and powerful as Susan's was and they both did a facinating job. From both characters you'll expect just about anything you can imagine.
The plot was just great. The movie kept me watching and i was just pissed off when the movie ended because i just wanted to see more of Sister Helen Prejean's story. It was just amazing! The movie obviously's good considering i've said amazing about six times already. lol.
Tim Robbins directs this movie and he does a wonderful job [Yes! I didnt say amazing], the movie is not a dissapointment. Rent it, if yea ever get the chance.
All and all, this is one of my new favorite movies. Its got twists, amazing powerful scenes, a great ending, EVERYTHING that perfect movie needs. This movie is definatly going in my top ten favorite. Thats how wonderful this is!