Manual Jordan has gotten parole from a life sentence for the murder of Abner Easley, and returns to the city he lived in to try to seek redemption. He ends up living and working at a community house run by a preacher, Miles Evans. Manual also becomes friends with Adele Easley, his victims sister, in an attempt to make up for what he did. While working at the home he has interactions with Sofia Mellinger, the druggie daughter of a famous singer, struggling with the lack of adult guidance in her life.
It's a slow story, but the character's keep it interesting enough. Not the greatest movie done by any of these actors, yet worth the watch. The movie is simple. No twists and turns. Just a story playing out with some decent acting. Nothing to special. Some people may get bored with it, cause of how slow the movie is. But stick with it. Maybe you will see something in it I didn't. Billy Bob Thornton was good in this movie along with Freeman, and Hunter. I was unimpressed with Kirsten Dunst's role. I just found her annoying. I like her acting though. Just not in this movie. Maybe seeing it a second time around would change my mind, but I don't know if I want to sit through it again.
Basically the story is a mess. Unbelievable and it tries to be too righteous. Considering the talented actors involved it is even more disappointing.
On a more pretentious note, I watched "Levity", which by my calculations is the pretentiousist movie ever made in english. It's about a guy who gets out of jail and... well, it's really about some liberal's guilt fantasy. Or maybe just general, pussy guilt. I'm pretty much a knee-jerk, tax and spend, bleeding heart myself, but this movie reminded me of an old National Lampoon song by Christopher Guest about his "middle-class white-boy well-intentioned blues" a little too much. I don't think anyone involved in the movie knows a goddamn thing about any of the characters in it, so everyone's just a walking stereotype with a built-in twist. I kept almost turning it off, but Kirsten Dunst is in it so... I kinda just waited it out until she was on screen again.
On a side note, at what point did Holly Hunter decide it would be a smart career move to only take roles inspired by after-school specials? First "Thirteen", now this - I can't even remember why I used to think she was cool.
Now for the bright, happy moment - I finally saw "The Crime of Padre Amaro", and it was word as hell. I thought there'd be more [b]fukin'[/b], but there was enough to get by on, and the movie smartly kept it's character close to it's heart, even as the plot spiralled and sprawled everywhere. I've seen that Gael Bernal guy in a few things now, and liked him, but I wasn't really prepared for how much ass he could kick as an actor. He completely got inside the character. He kicked ass... but [i]subtley[/i], and he was probably the main reason the movie didn't suck.
So good job, guy.
Manual Jordan (BILLY BOB THORNTON) is a man caught between two worlds: the one which existed before he was incarcerated, and the one into which he's released 22 years later.
A yellowing newspaper photograph of 16-year-old convenience store clerk Abner Easley--the boy Manual killed in a robbery gone terribly wrong --has stared down at him from the wall of his cell for more than two decades. Manual feels that his life sentence is just and deserved, so when--much to his surprise and even somewhat against his will--he's released, the aimless boy is now a lost man.
Floating through the barely familiar wintry landscape of his childhood neighborhood, Manual is like a ghost hungry for atonement, seemingly alienated from everything except for his terrible memories of the day which changed not only his life, but that of so many others as well. He glides through this strange new world a man apart, his wraithlike aspect and deeply formal, barely articulate manner guaranteed to insure solitude.
Almost by accident--or fate--Manual is drawn into the life of an inner city community center run by the relentlessly tough, caring and enigmatic pastor Miles Evans (MORGAN FREEMAN). Miles offers Manual work in return for a room, and once again, Abner Easley's photo is prominently placed, reminding Manual to come to terms with his crimes, his past, his future, himself.
While Manual tries to confront his past, Sofia Mellinger (KIRSTEN DUNST) is unable to deal with her present. A beautiful and privileged wreck of a young woman bent on self-destruction, she constantly requires Manual's reluctant assistance to survive the short trip from the hip nightclub across the street to the safety of the community house next door.
Ultimately, Manual seeks to reconcile his painful past when he pursues a relationship with Adele Easley (HOLLY HUNTER), the older sister of the boy he killed. Yet he finds himself unable to confess his true identity to her, especially as their relationship deepens.
[size=5][color=red]what i think of the movie[/color][/size]
[color=wheat]i got bored in this movie about half way though i lost track of what was going on cause i was cleaning out my wallet,the problem is the story doesnt have a pace or any events that make you care at all about the charaters it's a bland mess really ,the story wanders on so many diffent paths all at once it loses track of the main plot of the movie crap crap crap i give it a 2 just cause the cast gives a good performance despite the crap story they have [/color]
The man in question (Billy Bob Thornton) is unwillingly paroled after 20 years, and contemplates the five steps to redemption: repentance, undoing the harm, reconciliation with the victim, reconciliation with God, and being in the same situation and doing the right thing. He despairs of the last four ever happening, but feels compelled to hang out by the home of his victim's sister (Holly Hunter), his last surviving relative. He offers to help her with groceries and such. At first, not knowing his true identity, she considers him a dangerous stalker, but eventually decides he's got a crush on her. Her son, named after her slain brother, is involved with some serious gang activity. He has never known a father figure, and at least in the back of her mind, she sees this helpful, decent man as a possible solution.
At the same time, the ex-con is recruited by the pastor of a South Side Chicago church (Morgan Freeman) to help out with his youth program, and his night outreach to young people who attend the dance club across the street. He has a deal where the suburbanites can park free in his secured lot if they attend 15 minutes of his Bible study. We see a bit of his preaching, and can realize right away that he has something of a dark past. Anyhow, the ex-con becomes known as "God-boy" to the clubgoers, since he's the one taking their names down.
One partier (Kirsten Dunst) in particular catches the eye of God-boy, as often times she leaves her car overnight. It turns out she's passing out drunk every other night, and getting rides home from other people. One time when she returns the next day for her keys, he wonders aloud why she does this to herself. She reacts badly, to say the least, but the next time she blacks out she asks for God-boy. The club manager goes across the street to get him, and God-boy pays for a taxi to take her home. After this, she begins to hang out with the youth group at the church. The interaction between the inner-city guys and the suburban girl is great. She knows how to take care of herself, to say the least.
As the story goes on, the pastor is around less and less, and God-boy takes over more and more of the day-to-day operation of the church. He gains the trust of his victim's sister, as he talks to her son about the consequences of murder. One by one, he unintentionally fulfills the steps to redemption, but the burning secret of his true identity would ruin everything if it comes out.
How far can redemption go? Can a murderer ever make up the damage he or she has done? These questions are among those explored by the film, and there are no easy answers, and not much levity to be found.