Friday, April 28, 2006

FREEDOMLAND - a comprehensive failure

FREEDOMLAND is a mess. It wants to be a dark psychological thriller touching on issues of racial prejudice in contemporary America. It ends up as a badly written, uninvolving, predictable whodunnit featuring that rare of rare things - a bad performance by Julianne Moore. She plays an over-wrought white-trash mother who's son has been unwittingly abducted in a car-jacking. She lives in a poor community over-whelmingly populated by African-Americans, so that when she says a black man stole her child and the overwhelmingly white police come to investigate, the residents start rioting. The movie fails because Sam Jackson is on auto-pilot as the black policeman caught between two worlds. It fails because the writer and director mistakenly try to superimpose sexual tension onto his relationship with Moore's character. It's all dreamy music, moody lighting and empathetic glances. It fails because Julianne Moore cannot keep her white trash accent straight. It fails because her make-up and hair style is absurd and obviously fake - a sort of K-mart version of Charlize Theron's make-up in MONSTER. Finally, it fails because you figure out what's going on an hour before the end, and the ending comes three scenes later than it should, LORD OF THE RINGS-stylee. All of which is a shame because Edie Falco gives a rather nice supporting performance as the leader of a group of volunteers who help stage man-hunts for lost kids.

FREEDOMLAND was released in the US in February and is in on release in the UK.

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