Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Michael Bowen & r & & r & The Exonerated & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hen we heard the news about DNA evidence overturning death sentences, most of us clucked our tongues and murmured regrets. But Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen went out and interviewed the ex-cons who'd suddenly been set free. Then, being actors, they turned their research into a documentary play. When Court TV picked up the project, they added a few cinematic tricks (ghostlike conversation partners flitting on and off the screen, some slo-mo and lighting effects) to create a filmed play.


Which, at least for the first half of The Exonerated, is the problem. This is a talking-heads movie: Nearly every shot is a close-up, with just a face, a black background, the camera moving only slightly. The intent may have been to use a low-key presentation to set off the intensity of the material, which includes horrific details of crime scenes, prison rapes and malfunctioning electric chairs.


But why didn't the playwrights and screenwriters just film a regular documentary instead? These nightmares really happened: Every word, we're told, is taken verbatim from court transcripts, confessions, letters. People lost 16 years, 22 years of their lives just because they came across the wrong bunch of mouth-breathing hillbillies or callous cops. But the entire time, we know that's Susan Sarandon up there, that's Brian Dennehy. After the cameras are turned off, they're not going back into lockup.


Yet when the film turns its focus toward its stories of exoneration, it soars. The crosscutting among six victims' accounts begins to make sense, because several of them fought bitterness by developing a simple spirituality. For example, Danny Glover's character is initially enough of a dim bulb to think that making a quick confession "might help move the process along." While in prison, though, he develops a simple faith that's nicely interwoven with Delroy Lindo's prisonhouse philosophizing. At first, Aidan Quinn subtly conveys the slow-witted exasperation of a petty rebel who's falsely accused of a rape-murder. In the film's shattering conclusion, however, Quinn's real-life victim of injustice -- convicted on flimsy grounds, then brutalized in prison -- is shown with coat and tie, wife and child, a new life. By its shattering conclusion, The Exonerated finally makes us feel sick about the unfairness of American injustice. (Rated R)

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Recall and Response
  • Recall and Response

    The attempt to remove Spokane Mayor David Condon from office may be a long shot, but he isn't taking any chances
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Shades of Black Lives
  • Shades of Black Lives

    A Spokane County detective's Facebook post about Black Lives Matter sparks debate among local law enforcement
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Fires Hit Home
  • Fires Hit Home

    Tens of thousands of acres burn around Spokane on Sunday and Monday; plus, DOJ weighs in on concerns over bail system
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Art on the Street

Art on the Street @ Spokane Art School

Saturdays, 1-4 p.m. Continues through Aug. 27

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation