Entertainment Weekly - 02/24/2006
"[Moore] does a scrupulous job of playing a forlorn broken-down mother....Jackson makes Council a torn and tortured soul, with a dicey legacy of his own." -- Grade: B-
Richard Price's novel FREEDOMLAND is brought to life in this 2006 adaptation. A carjacking-turned-kidnapping provides the set-up for a complex story of racial and class divide, as black detective Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson) attempts to uncover the truth in victim Brenda Martin's story. Bleeding and dazed in an inner city ER, Brenda (Julianne Moore) explains that on her way home from work in the projects of fictional Dempsey, New Jersey, a black man assaulted her and stole her car. Matters are intensified when it's revealed that her 4-year-old son was asleep in the backseat.
Novelist Price (CLOCKERS), who also wrote the screenplay, has never shied away from the blunt realities and moral ambiguities of the contemporary urban experience. Though Price's vision is often unrelentingly bleak, and his characters are far from saintly , there's a weary hopefulness that birddogs them throughout. Stars Jackson and Moore turn in performances as incendiary as the film's subject, and the excellent supporting cast (Edie Falco and Anthony Mackie, among them) tackles these complex characters with both nuance and fire. Director Joe Roth (CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS) is given the monumental task of bringing Price's epic to the screen and his visual approach works well--all cinematic chiaroscuro and icy hues. Still, Price's themes of racial and class tension are rough, murky waters and require both a bold vision and a deft touch. As much as Roth is clearly passionate about the task at hand--setting an emotional fever pitch from the word go--the hopeful resolution he desires is not so easily attained, if attainable at all. FREEDOMLAND is a tough one, and although flawed, in the end, it's an emotionally complex, politically provocative film worth viewing.
IN THEATERS DECEMBER 23, 2005 (NY & LA), JANUARY 13, 2006 (nationwide) Theatrical Release: February 20, 2006
Richard Price (SEA OF LOVE, SHAFT) penned this screenplay, based on his own novel, about interracial tensions surrounding a kidnapping and apparent murder of a teenager. Samuel Jackson, Julianne Moore, and Edie Falco star.