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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 27.59%
Average: 27.59%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 3.45%

3 reviews, 11 user ratings

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by Chris Parry

"Morgan Freeman is back. Holly Hunter is back. Billy Bob never left."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2003 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: A murderer sits before a parole board and tells them what they no doubt rarely hear – that he doesn’t feel that he has a right to be set free. But the parole board sees it differently. They say the murderer has no say in the matter. He’s been a good boy and thus he’ll be packing a bag and getting on a bus, whether he likes it or not. So it goes that Manuel Jordan (Billy Bob Thornton) takes his first steps of freedom in over twenty years, each one with a heavy heart, a ton of guilt and the desire to make good. But how on earth do you ‘make up’ with a woman (Holly Hunter) whose brother you shot in the head twenty years ago?

Let me put it out there for you in black and white, Levity is simply a fantastic flick that you can not look away from for a minute. Everyone in the cast is on fire, from start to finish, without exception. Billy Bob is a morose, understated continuation of every great role he’s served up in the last three years, while Holly Hunter quite simply hasn’t performed this well on the big screen since The Piano.

In itself, those two busting out in great form would be enough for most people to see the flick, but the leads are just the beginning… I got your Morgan Freeman right here.

An unquestioned screen force in Seven and Shawshank Redemption, it would be safe to say that morgan Freeman has been in a bit of a slump over the last few years, for some reason finding himself in cheesy Ashley Judd murder flicks, but here he is back to the Morgan of old. As a preacher who runs a community house that provides free parking to nightclubbing teens, but only if they’ll listen to fifteen minutes of the Lord’s teachings, he just doesn’t miss a step from the outset. In fact, if this movie were released a few months ago, I’d be in the chorus singing for a Freeman Oscar nomination. Or at least a Golden Globe. Hell, give the guy an Independent Spirit Award, something… anything. Morgan, call me, you can date my sister.

And if that’s not enough, then there’s Kirsten Dunst. Now, anyone who reads my scrawlings regularly knows I don’t generally give a whole lot of credit to Dunst for her acting ability, nor do I go along with those who think she’s drop dead gorgeous. She’s perfectly serviceable, for want of a less innuendo-riddled phrase, but I’ve always been of the belief that she’s this year’s Furbie. Having said that (often), Kirsten Dunst unloads a volley of rockets here, as a teen that spends her evenings doing drugs, drinking booze and humping randomly, only to black out and end up being Billy Bob’s good deed for the day. Dunst doesn’t oversell things, nor does she rely on the cute factor, and in fact she’s quite handy with the zingers. Could she make me a convert? I’m not certain, since surely even Carrot Top, Freddie Prinze Jr and Rachel Leigh Cook could ride on the acting coat-tails of this top-notch cast and manage to look better than they usually do. In fact, Carrot Top could go face first under a subway train and look better than he does currently, but I digress. My point was Kirsten Dunst is in no way shamed next to three other legendary actors who are all at the top of their game here.

But the real deal, the aspect of this film that moves it to the next level, is the chemistry between Hunter and Thornton. Not that they’re all sexed up and looking a million bucks; exactly the opposite in fact. Hunter is portrayed as a washed up mom who’ll shag for a hug, while Thornton is a desperately lost soul with hair that you couldn’t make look any worse if you’d vomited in it. But these two human train-wrecks have one thing in common; they’re dying inside, and they can only move on with the help of each other.

To reveal more would be to give away the best parts of a film that, while it certainly isn’t perfect (it’s about twenty minutes too long for a start), it certainly strives far beyond expectations to give the audience a truly personal, funny, soul-searching movie experience.

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originally posted: 01/18/03 20:50:06
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/16/04 aim a brilliant story of redemption 4 stars
8/15/03 Paul Dempsey Fred Schepisi Exective Produced this little gem. Why not do something like this in Oz? 4 stars
4/16/03 Andrew Carden Appealing Performance By Hunter Saves The Film Altogther. 5 stars
4/04/03 Jim C. Not Bill and Ted. A fine piece of filmmaking! Don't wait for the video. 5 stars
3/25/03 Ric bonsey Truly a must see! 5 stars
3/20/03 Jane O. Worst movie I've seen in a long time. A real waste of some fine acting talent. 1 stars
1/31/03 Justin Biles really interesting, really evocative, poetic film 5 stars
1/24/03 Troonster What a cast, what a movie! Deakins (cinematographer) does GREAT work. 5 stars
1/23/03 Sean It is hard to care about the movie when you don't care about the characters 3 stars
1/21/03 SmallMediumLarge BillyBob telling off Dunst is a profound moment 5 stars
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  04-Apr-2003 (R)



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