out of Five
Running time: 113
Freedomland starts well but quickly becomes extremely tedious, with overwritten dialogue, nonsensical plot developments, some dodgy performances and several loose ends.
What’s it all about?
When a dazed and bloodied woman named Brenda (Julianne Moore) staggers into a New Jersey emergency room, it’s up to police detective Lorenzo Council (Samuel L Jackson) to investigate. She claims she was car-jacked by a black man in the Dempsy housing projects and that her young son was asleep in the back of the car at the time. However, Lorenzo senses he’s not getting the whole story.
As the community searches for the missing child, racial tensions erupt in the projects as the area is flooded with cops from a neighbouring white district area, one of whom (Ron Eldard) is Brenda’s brother.
The film’s not a total disaster. Jackson is a highly watchable actor and he’s on fine form here, while there’s strong support from Edie Falco (from The Sopranos) as the activist leader of a group of women who’ve lost their children. However, Julianne Moore must have been having something of an off day because her twitchy, overly mannered performance is frequently annoying and only serves as a distraction.
Freedomland has an extremely strong opening sequence but its intriguing premise is quickly squandered in favour of overwritten speeches and a series of boring, nonsensical scenes that seem to go nowhere. It’s not hard to see where the blame lies – Richard Price adapted the screenplay from his own novel and it’s clear that large amounts of the story have been hacked out.
The film is frustrating on many levels. For one thing, the mystery itself is deeply unsatisfying. Secondly, there are way too many loose ends, with several characters being introduced and then failing to play any meaningful part in the story.
In short, Freedomland is something of a disappointment thanks to a squandered premise and a frequently tedious script.