Dead Man Walking - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Dead Man Walking Reviews

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August 21, 2017
A very good performance of the duo Sean Penn and Susan Saradon in confronting opposing worlds that meet at a crossroad, death row. On one side the personification of monstrosity, on the other the personification of innocence and purity. This movie forces you to put into perspective many topics such as: capital punishment, the sanctity of life, unspeakable grief, human forgiveness, redemption, humanized monsters, trial injustice, prejudice, mercifulness, and the importance of repent. A must-see when inspecting Sean Penn's career.
June 16, 2017
Would give zero stars if possible. Acting was fine. But this was a sick slick pro-murderer propaganda film, ignoring the willful evil and depravity of the monster who chose to do unspeakable things to innocent victims. Prejean is in truth a shameless media whore who destroys victims families. Read Dead Family Walking and Victims of Dead Man Walking to learn the truth.
May 6, 2017
This atonement Academcy acclaimed movie is what great movies are made of! Sarandon's performance was not crafted but embodied. The movie adaption of the book might not have provoked political or legal shifts but it sure did set the balling rolling for academic discourses.
April 10, 2017
My Favorite Film Of All Time Is 1941's Citizen Kane.
½ February 28, 2017
A challenging film where religious faith and divisive politics collide, "Dead Man Walking" is an important study of character.
½ October 30, 2016
How did Sean Penn not get the Oscar for this? Worth seeing for his performance alone, whatever your thoughts on the death penalty. Bonus (for me) - an appearance by Jack Black, in a dramatic role!
September 17, 2016
Standing the test of time, Tim Robbins deftly directs two acting Titans, Sarandon and Penn in an unflinching look into death row. A second viewing 20 years after its initial release is completely worth it.
½ September 14, 2016
The scenes when Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn are together just before his execution are so ridiculously cheesy that I almost gave this a 3. Especially when she sings to him. Just remembering it makes me cringe. The film also feels too drawn out. But it's multi-dimensional and has strong points earlier on throughout the film which make up for this.
July 17, 2016
Worthy of the praise thousands before me have given it.
½ June 8, 2016
I wish I would have liked it more... That movie was consacred by critics. But it was definitely too long...
Ce film s'étirait en longueur, j'aurais voulu dire que je l'ai aimé plus que ça étant donné les louanges des critiques mais ce n'est pas le cas...
½ March 28, 2016
Makes you reflect on your own life and others' wrong doings. Sean Penn pretty much nailed this one, but there's a few weak bits in the film overall.
½ March 13, 2016
little slow , great performances
March 11, 2016
"I just wanna say I think killin' is wrong. No matter who does it, whether it's me or y'all or your government" Poderosa película que no presenta el tema de los diferentes puntos de vista pero sobretodo del punto de vista humano. Muchos debates se pueden sacar se esto.
Super Reviewer
March 11, 2016
It's essentially an exploration of capital punishment from various angles, while also having Sarandon at her best.
December 13, 2015
The finale of the film is deeply affecting and the film does a great job of showing the many characters different perspectives and the hatred the victims parents have for the criminal. It succeeded in treating a delicate issue fairly and it also had a very talented cast, but the film was slow and gentle, which I think didn't fit the mood that the title implies. The movie was also much more centered around the nun than it was about the criminal.
December 2, 2015
Sean Penn is sublime. Amazing, adaptogen on the screen. I love him. Never convicted of DomesticMadonnaViolence* I love his acting, his rugged handsome face. God broke the mold and spared others from trying to live up to Sean Penn. Anthropologies amazing homosapien.
Super Reviewer
November 25, 2015
A daring, objective and thought-provoking drama that inspires us to reflect on such medieval practice and discuss it for hours straight, even if it also respects those who are in favor, and it has two magnificent and greatly nuanced performances by Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon.
½ October 19, 2015
As a supporter of the Death Penalty Law myself, watching this movie "almost" made me change my mind. Still, it was quite a telling blow. The actors did a fantastic job on making the viewers get closely attached to the characters. Moreover, the director effectively delivered his thoughts to the audience that the government killing a murderer is no different to a murderer killing innocent people. It's not a matter of who's wrong and who's right, says the director. It's the matter of taking one's life by force, and for Tim Robbins that's not the kind of right that the government has on its people.
October 9, 2015
"Dead Man Walking" (1995) Review
Dead Man Walking is an emotionally powerful film that explores deep themes of redemption, forgiveness and love that sometimes touches on religious levels. It is both a faithful adaption of the memoirs penned by real life Helen Prejeans in its spirit, and a piece of powerful film on its own merits. The film remains engaging due to the powerful portrayal of Sister Helen Prejean by actress Susan Sarandon and Matthew Poncelet by Sean Penn, as the interaction of these two characters drive the entire plot of the film.
The film chronicles the experiences of the Catholic nun Sister Helen Prejeans and her interactions with the fictional condemned murderer and rapist Matthew Poncelet, who was on death row. While the Poncelet character had been fictional, he nonetheless displays traits and characteristics of the two real-life death row inmates the real life Helen Prejeans had visited as spiritual adviser, carrying on the spirit of the book. However, one flaw I found with this film would be the false hope scenarios introduced that suggests that Poncelet could live, these false hope scenarios such as pardons and appeals appeared fairly weak and it was very obvious that Poncelet was going to die no matter what.
These two characters and their interactions were the focus of the entire film, so it was essential that the characters are well-written and complex, a feat Robbins thankfully achieved spectacularly. Helen's character, despite having no prior experience with such matters, and despite her celibacy keeping her from deeply understanding men, stayed strong throughout the film in her duties to Poncelet despite the numerous emotional turmoil she faced as well as discouragement from her own community and family. She was not timid or submissive to Poncelet, and heeded the advice of Chaplain Farley, who warned the manipulative nature of death row convicts before Helen even met Poncelet. Farley's warnings proved correct, as Poncelet appeared to be deceptive, disrespectful, rude, sexist, racist and generally unlikeable, but with just enough trinkets of humanity portrayed that the audience could still sympathize with him. In fact, Poncelet's deception sometimes proved so masterful in his interactions with Prejeans that some audience may be inclined to take his side in the very beginning, until cracks show in his facade and the audience is reminded of his true motives, before he genuinely finds his own humanity at the very end. In fact, this entire film could be a subverted version of "Beauty and the Beast" where Prejeans slowly makes the monster Poncelet more and more human with her unconditional love in a religious and spiritual sense.
In addition, the film takes an arguably better approach than the book in that the themes of redemption and forgiveness are the focus of the film, while the debate regarding capital punishment took a backseat, a stark contrast to the book. In fact, the film does not take any particularly stance on any side of the debate, showing strong arguments for both and leaving it up to the audience's own interpretation. For example, the film implied that Poncelet only learned to seek forgiveness and take responsibility because of his impending death, and that perhaps if he was only given a life sentence instead, that all the compassion and love from Helen Prejeans wouldn't be able to save his soul. The book, on the other hand, took a strong stance against the death sentence, evident in the real life Helen Prejean forming her own organization for that cause.
As such, this film stirs powerful emotions in the audience, humanizes the most despicable person society would normally find, and provides a great allegory to the famous "Beauty and the Beast" narrative. In addition, the film respects the audience's intelligence, offering no clear stances on the debate surrounding the death penalty, while suggesting strong arguments for both sides.
October 9, 2015
When dead row is put to executed, the police will announce "Dead man working". Not until Poncelet were put to be executed, I didn't know where the title of movie came from. In fact, what the police did is just follow their job, but as the movie create an angle of view from the prisoner, I can clearly know how cruel this word is. Poncelet is still alive, but step closer and closer to death. By choosing this title, it helps audience get closer to this movie as well as feel the feeling of dead row.
Dead man walking was adapt from a true story between a nun and a dead row. The plot is attractive because it create a closer touch with a prisoner rather than the victims, which is quite different from other movies. However, dead man walking didn't create a very kind prisoner, but instead, it shows a young guy with bad mood and social prejudice, lying to escape from being executed. Sister Helen, who abject to dead penalty, plays a very important role here, she is not only connect with Poncelet but also help connect audience with Poncelet. She uncover the truth of young couple's dead step by step, using her kindness and sincere heart to finally touch Poncelet and audiences.
Great movie is good at dealing with details and make everything looks like real. At the beginning of the movie, camera didn't firstly shot the main character Helen, but the kids playing around. After a few shot about kids, Helen walk through the long take lens, holding things. The nature beginning is well-design to prevent stiff. One more "long take" happen when Helen listen to one of the victim's father talking about his son, "All the memories get sealed in a place, sealed like a shrine." When the camera move away twice from two characters, accompany with two "sealed", audiences can easily follow characters' feeling without shooting characters' face to express emotions. What's more, when Helen sit in the car, thinking about whether Poncelet is a murder or not, horizontal panning were used to shot from animal that Helen really see and the commit process that might happened in Poncelet, to children's pure face (using POV here), and finally to real scene in graveyard. Contact skills were used here, young couple were cruelly killed like an animal, even if Poncelet might be a cruel murder, he has have a pure eyes and heart when he was a young boy. But what face to Poncelet is dead. I can see Helen feels ambivalent. On one side, she don't want any killing happen. On the other side, she received the sorrow from victim's family, the sharp-eyed from others and the difficulty of appealing for Poncelet.
Most of the scenes in dead man walking are dialogues between Helen and Poncelet. It should be very easy for audiences to feel boring, but this narrative film has a strong theme of murder to absorb attentions, and at the same time organize the story by gradually releasing the clues and using repetition of murder scenes to stimulate audiences' vision. A good movie must have great present in Mise-en-scene, which refers to lighting, costumes, sets, and quality of the acting. Although most of the dialogues appeared in prison, the background lighting is different between Helen and Poncelet, Helen wear white suite, with relatively dark background lighting while Poncelet usually wear deep dark clothes with relatively bright background lighting. In such arrangement, audiences receive visual balance. Sister Helen is casted by Susan Sarandon, a famous actress that made character Helen become vivid. She even refuse to be the normal nun that make people feel boring. I remember a scene that when there is only 20 minutes left for Poncelet, Helen sing the hymn for Poncelet, she is facing the sunshine, tears down her face, I thought she already meet god, and pray to reduce Poncelet's painful. I think that is the most touchable scenes in this movie.
Dead man walking object to dead penalty, however, just like what shows in the movie, politics insist: "I would rather see him (Poncelect) fry." Helen's action received against from her family, from her job, and from victims' family. This controversial topic made the movie become more meaningful. It represent two different view from society and deserve to thinking about.
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