Dead Man Walking

"Excellent"

Dead Man Walking Review


A progressive nun living in the confines of rural Louisiana, and a racist convicted murderer, waiting on death row. The cast of next year's hottest new sitcom? No! They're the leads of Dead Man Walking, a somber "inspired by true events" docudrama wherein the nun, Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon), becomes the spiritual guide and confidant of the criminal, Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn).

Poncelet (a hybridized, fictional character), along with a friend, raped and murdered a teenage girl along with her boyfriend back in 1988. Poncelet was convicted and sentenced to death. His execution rapidly approaching, Poncelet struck out to find anyone who could help him file his appeals and requests for pardon hearings. Enter Helen Prejean and the beginning of Dead Man Walking.

As Helen helps Poncelet through the legal circus, she tries to get him to confess his sins and admit his guilt. Poncelet forcefully refuses, and Helen quickly finds herself as hated by the public as Poncelet is. Interacting with the slain teens' families takes her into their world, filled with remorse and seething with anger. And all the while, Poncelet's execution looms closer and closer.

Tim Robbins wrote and directed Dead Man Walking, based on Helen's own book of the same name. While the film is flawed (it starts off slow, it's talky and repetitive, and Robbins really isn't much of a director), it really starts to grow on you as the relationship between Helen and Poncelet becomes curiouser and curiouser. At first, Poncelet appears to be nothing more than a common hood, who isn't worth saving at all and who evokes no sympathy. But Helen takes this man and crafts him into something that, while not quite "good," is genuinely remorseful and, maybe, worthy of redemption . By the end of the picture, the movie comes together quite nicely.

Sarandon and Penn are to be commended for their fine performances, but the story itself is the real star, showing us the harrowing reality of the execution process and the raw anger that it creates. It probably isn't for everyone, but Dead Man Walking is a tale that needs to be heard and that will likely provide material for hours of philosophical debate.

And what's more fitting for the holidays than a good execution movie, anyway?



Dead Man Walking

Facts and Figures

Run time: 122 mins

In Theaters: Friday 2nd February 1996

Box Office Worldwide: $39.4M

Budget: $11M

Distributed by: Gramercy Pictures

Production compaines: Working Title Films, Havoc, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Gramercy Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 52 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Sister Helen Prejean, as Matthew Poncelet, as Hilton Barber, as Earl Delacroix, as Clyde Percy, as Mary Beth Percy, as Helen's Mother, as Kaplan Farlely, Roberta Maxwell as Lucille Poncelet, as Sister Colleen, as Craig Poncelet, as Luis Montoya

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The...

Sing Street Movie Review

Sing Street Movie Review

A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...

Departure Movie Review

Departure Movie Review

Complex, dark and very moving, this British drama never makes things easy for the audience,...

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Richard Linklater loosely follows on from two of his most acclaimed films with this lively...

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal...

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

There's nothing particularly memorable about this frantic animated romp, which adapts the iconic phone-app game...

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

While it's amusing and sometimes very funny, there's an air of desperation about this sequel...

Advertisement
Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Although this comedy-drama seems to have been written specifically to give Meryl Streep a chance...

I Saw the Light Movie Review

I Saw the Light Movie Review

Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams,...

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Demolition Movie Review

Demolition Movie Review

With its darkly emotive themes and brittle humour, this well-made drama by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas...

Bastille Day Movie Review

Bastille Day Movie Review

An attempt to muscle in on Luc Besson's Taken-style of thriller, this is an odd...

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Expectations are a problem with this year's Secret Cinema event. After the jaw-dropping, goosebump-inducing surprises...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.