Last night we went to see Freedomland, the cinematic adaptation of Richard Price’s novel by the same name.
Different things could be said about this movie – but seeing as it’s still in the theaters and i don’t want to ruin anyone’s movie, i’m actually not going to say any of them. I mean, The Battle of Algiers this ain’t, so it’s not as if i would normally even feel any particular need to mention it here…
Which is why i am mentioning it. You see, without being Politically Important or groundbreaking, Freedomland was – from within the Hollywood gamut – one of the better dramas to hit the big screens over the past months. We went because we both like Samuel Jackson, and he played his part very well, but i have to say that it was Julianne Moore and Edie Falco who stole the show.
In other words, it was a “good”, perhaps even a “very good” movie…
Which is why i am writing about it.
You see, Freedomland has been getting lousy reviews. On Cinema Clock it has been reviewed by 40 people so far, and the average person is giving it 5.5 out of 10; the Detroit News called it “a car wreck, though nowhere near interesting enough for rubbernecking”; USA Today says “stay clear from Freedomland” and the Canadian JAM says “Freedomland misses the mark” while the Denton Record Chronicle simply states that it is “An unpleasant, strident film marred further by unpleasant, strident performances.”
My guess is part of what some people find difficult to swallow is that this movie takes for granted certain truths – America being racist, cops being pricks, working class people being human beings (& other things too) – and just moves on. As such, it refuses to cater to any putative need to “prove” or “justify” or “provide balance” for these facts. While racism and the humanity of the oppressed (& other things too) – the unexceptional content of life-as-it-exists – do get presented in mainstream movies (think Crash), movie-makers often act like they’re touching on Truths weighty and controversial enough to have to become the focus of the entire work. Whereas in Freedomland they’re just there – as obvious and trivial as ever – and the plot, the story, and the characters develop without being reduced to this or that Issue.
So… without even mentioning the plot, i’m just quietly recommending this movie. If you’re going to see a mainstream Hollywood production anyway, give this one a chance. My guess is that those of us who are nonplussed by the “shock! horror!” revelation that poor people – and poor Black people especially – suffer under capitalism (& other things too) will actually find this to be a good movie.
But i could be wrong – it could be me, just another white guy who likes movies, whose take on his is somehow out of phase.
So if you see it and you hate it, don’t be shy – share in the comments.