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This is a sober and balanced drama looking at the death penalty, explored through the conversations between a nun, Sister Helen Prejean, and Matthew Poncelet, a man waiting his execution. While it's easy to make an anti-death penalty film about an wrongly convicted person, this film is about an unappealing man who was responsible for a brutal murder, and pays attentions to the feelings of the victims' families and their desire for what they feel would be justice, too. When he tries to fight his death sentence from his Louisiana prison cell, convicted murderer Matthew Poncelet (brilliantly played by Sean Penn) writes a moving letter to Sister Prejean, a nun who opposes the death penalty, asking for her help and spiritual guidance. The two plead with the government to drop the sentence, campaigning for Poncelet to serve life instead. Rather than portray Poncelet as a monster who deserves to die (or, indeed, a wrongly-convicted innocent), Dead Man Walking presents a well-rounded view of him as it does every one of its characters - and the issue of the death penalty as a whole.
A thoughtful, measured prison film about a wrongly convicted man and the survival of hope in hopeless situations.
14+ years 136 mins
Laid-back black and white comedy about a New Orleans jail break.
16+ years 107 mins
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