Dead Man Walking (1995)

The set-up is deceptively simple in this much-acclaimed Southern drama
from writer/director Tim Robbins (BOB ROBERTS).  Susan Sarandon plays a
nun on a last-minute mission to save the soul of Sean Penn's convicted
murderer on death row.  It's a straight-forward set-up that firmly holds
our attention through the various preachy, predictable, and downright
tedious turns taken by the story.  The subtext is capital punishment and
Robbins-- adapting from Sister Helen Prejean's best seller-- lays it on
a bit thick.  To the director's credit, his in-your-face exploration of
the issue is (reasonably) balanced on both sides of the argument.  He also
keeps the theatrics to a considerable minimum.  (The Christ allusions at
the end do get a bit tiresome, though.) Both Penn and Sarandon do impos-
sibly good work and will be likely contenders at Oscar time.  Also worth
noting is supporting actor Robert Prosky, usually just another familiar
face and who, here, actually finds some flavor.  (Rated "R"/122 min.)

Grade: B+

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: February 5, 1996

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