Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Julianne Moore, Samuel L. Jackson, Edie Falco, Ron Eldard

"The Truth Is Hiding Where No One Dares To Look."

Cinema 3, Greenbelt 3


The opening sequence of this movie grabs you by the throat and won't loosen its tight grip until the very end. A mother covered with blood bolts hysterically into a hospital. She is totally incoherent, in a state of shock. She claims she was the victim of a violent carjacking incident. Then while you try to come to terms with what she just revealed, she drops the bombshell. Her four year old son was also in the car. She has no idea what happened to him. The whole incident triggers a lockdown in a crime infested black community, the so called scene of the crime. The entire police department swoops down upon it complete with blaring sirens and barricades.

From the get go, this gritty film keeps you on the edge of your seat. The director chose to feed us bits and pieces of the actual crime. He fleshes out the diffent characters in such unflattering lighting imagery, you know right away you will be dealing with intense dramatics from every possible angle. You have the African American police detective who is torn between solving the crime and risking his good moral standing within his own community. The civic minded group of people (mostly mothers of missing children) who help in combing the area for the abducted child. The entire police department who try their darnest best to keep the situation from escalating into a racial prolifing incident. The whole community protesting their innocence. The volatile situation threatening to explode in violent riots. Yet amidst the various complex issues, we naturally focus our attention on Brenda Martin played superbly by Julianne Moore. Her portrayal of an unstable woman desperately looking for her son is mind boggling. There are times you sympathize with her agony. Then in the same breath you get frustrated with her inconsistency in providing sketchy details of the incident. She is calm and composed one minute then in a span of a few seconds transforms into this grief stricken mother wracking with sobs. A scruffy looking Julianne Moore is excellent in this role although she tends to overact in some scenes. Samuel L. Jackson who normally portrays charming detectives with witty one liners is clearly much subdued here. Yet he is very effective in drawing out Lorenzo Council, as the conflicted and sympathetic police officer.

"Freedomland" is based on a novel by Richard Price who also wrote the screenplay for the film. It is a gripping whodunit tale that develops at a slow yet steady pace, set in a small suburban New Jersey black community in the year 1999. It ventures boldly into controversial issues like racism, racial stereotyping, child abduction. Mostly it delves into the festering mind of an unstable woman who may or may be telling the truth about the carjacking. I have to admit, the only reason you might be compelled to hold on till the very end is to know the truth. What on earth happened to the young boy. Then it hits you in the face like a train wreck. You leave the cinema wondering, speculating, trying to justify the action and its ensuing consequences. Or maybe not. I know maybe it's just me. I tend to overanalyze everything in my life. Even a small film which didn't create much impact judging from all the empty seats in the cinema when I watched it. Oh well.

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