This is a small, humorous movie in some ways, but it has a huge heart. What a nice experience.
Mathilde the Guild
Although I seem to have had higher expectations than I thought, the movie is super entertaining.
Not a religious movie, not an anti-death penalty movie, but a movie about redemption. About pain, and how it affects different people. "Dead Man Walking" strikes this fine balance between sympathy and personal justice. With no real agenda of it's own, the characters all have their own ways of coping with what's happened to them, whether it be Penn hiding behind his ego, or Ermey wanting the death penalty. The film stays as neutral as it can when covering a controversial topic like this. It doesn't ask you to pick sides, or condemn those who think different, but more understand where both sides are coming from. I can see both sides of the death penalty argument, and I hope I never have to decide personally, but this doesn't portray Penn's character as an animal, more of just a person who's done something bad. He comes off as more ignorant than anything else, foolish, racist, but still a human being, and the scene where he finally admits to what part he played in the crime got some tears out of me, I'm not gonna lie. It's a sad movie, but also an inspiring one, and I think everyone should at least see it once, just to see how both sides of a subject can be portrayed
Before watching this, I wasn't sure I would like this that much. Maybe a 7 rating or so. After about 30 minutes it became apparent that this movie was going to be carried by Sarandon and Penn and that it was! Phenomenal performances from them. Really some of the better performances I have ever seen and with great chemistry between them. The relationship formed between these two was so sincere that Penn's character hit home for me. Sarandon further carried this with her sympathy for him and the friendship they bound. The greatest aspect of this movie is it shows the good and bad side so it is for you the viewer to decide whether you will cry for the victims families or the convict. This movie definitely made me think deeper into my opinions on capital punishment. All in all an extremely emotional watch that will likely leave you in tears.
Dead Man Walking is not a one-sided political propaganda picture. It could have been a movie made to confirm the political biases of its viewers, but instead it is a nuanced view of a nuanced issue.The film follows the true-to-life events of death row inmate Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) and Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon), a nun who responds to his letters. Sister Prejean follows Poncelet through his appeals process and his final days, learning all about his case and meeting a number of other involved parties, including the parents of Poncelet's two teenage victims.If a viewer comes into the movie strongly against the death penalty, they will see a movie that shows a flawed, but altogether good and apologetic man be killed by his country. If a viewer comes in against the death penalty, they will see a movie in which a killer causes irreparable harm and pays the price. Robbins does a great job juxtaposing two reasonable characters against each other. On the anti-death penalty side, Prejean is easy to attach to: she is caring and a believer in forgiveness. On the pro-death penalty side, a viewer can easily sympathize with the pain that the parents of the victims feel after their kids were killed for no good reason.The performances by the cast are phenomenal, and Robbins knows how to put the actors in emotional, personal settings in which their talent can go on full display. I am confident that I have never seen Sean Penn give a more powerful performance (even though he has two Academy Awards).If I have a criticism of the film, it lies in the score. The movie is loaded with bubbly, acoustic tunes that do not fit the dark subject matter. David Robbins, brother of Tim Robbins, is credited with the music in the film, and one has to believe that nepotism was a factor in how he got the job. This is probably a nitpick of a very good movie, but it does detract from the experience.Dead Man Walking is certainly worth a watch, as it is a balanced view of a complex issue that is bolstered by impressive acting.
"I want the last face you see in this world to be the face of love, so you look at me when they do this thing. I'll be the face of love for you."Dead Man Walking is a film that explores the unique and unexpected bond formed between a Catholic nun and a convicted murderer on Death Row. I know this doesn't exactly sound as a compelling plot nor a crowd pleaser, but it was definitely a thought provoking film and surprisingly one of the best movies of 1995 thanks to the strong performances. Tim Robbins adapted the screenplay from Sister Helen Prejean's nonfictional book of the same name, and he also directed this inspirational spiritual drama that avoids being one sided and preachy by approaching the material through several different viewpoints. Sister Helen Prejean may be an advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, but this film rather than take sides on the issue allows for both views to make their case and doesn't seem to have a hidden agenda. Robbins could've taken the easy way out by making the convicted murderer more sympathetic, but from the very first scene he's in, we know this is no saint and the film doesn't shy away from what he did and the effect his actions had in the family of the victims. This is one of those rare films that approaches a controversial subject and succeeds at being balanced, which makes it a great tool for discussion.Sister Helen is probably one of the most authentic Christian characters portrayed on film as she is purely empathetic towards everyone around her. She isn't forcing her religion on this convict or trying to convert him, but rather finding a way for him to come to terms with what he did and find redemption by taking responsibility for his actions. She truly cares for this man, who isn't exactly a role model, and there is never any judgement in her words. It is rare to find a spiritual character like this portrayed on film in such an honest way, and Susan Sarandon takes the strong material and delivers one of her best performances to date. She simply cares for everyone around her and she is trying to do what is right because she is committed to her beliefs, and she actually applies them which is a rare thing. Sean Penn also delivers a strong performance as the convict, Matthew Poncelet, who every time he opens his mouth the less sympathetic he is, but it is evident he is trying to hide his true emotions and blame everyone else for what he has become. His chemistry with Sarandon is what carries this movie, but there are also several strong supporting performances. Margo Martindale is an actress that is often overlooked, but she deserves more recognition. She can effortlessly play a villain like in The Leftovers, or a loving and supporting Sister like she does here. R. Lee Ermey and Celia Weston play the resentful parents of the victim, and they share a great scene with Susan Sarandon that says a lot about her character. Tim Robbins hasn't directed a better film and I think he owes much of the success of this movie to the strong performances along with his well written and thought provoking script. http://estebueno10.blogspot.com/