Freedomland

on February 17, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
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"Freedomland" is one of those "ripped from the headlines" scenarios made popular by television police procedurals like "Law & Order" and its progeny. Some years ago, in the real world, a white woman claimed that a black man inadvertently kidnapped her children while stealing her car. Said children were later found dead in the river. The controversy over whether the carjacking story might have been concocted to pin the murders on someone whom the public would be quite willing to believe was guilty is effectively the premise of "Freedomland," wherein the overwrought Brenda (Julianne Moore) plays a similar mother in a similar circumstance. The able Samuel Jackson plays the asthmatic police detective hellbent on either finding the child or the truth as the black and white communities threaten to come to blows.

Novelist Richard Price ("Clockers") adapts his own 1998 book for this emblematic melodrama while former studio production chief Joe Roth directs, getting several solid performances from Moore, Edie Falco, Ron Eldard and Anthony Mackie ("She Hate Me"). Unfortunately, what the film is emblematic of is the Hollywood's utter detachment from the real world and actual current events. For the filmmakers, the drama is in the accusation and what it means about the state of race relations in America today. Which, if they were paying attention, are comparatively pretty good. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Julianne Moore, Edie Falco, Ron Eldard, William Forsythe, Aunjanue Ellis, Anthony Mackie and LaTanya Richardson. Directed by Joe Roth. Written by Richard Price. Produced by Scott Rudin. A Columbia release. Drama. Rated R for language and some violent content. Running time:112 min

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