Time: 122 mins.
Won Academy Award for Best Actress. Nominations for Best Actor, Best Director and Best Song.
SYNOPSIS: A nun sets out to save the soul of a death-row inmate, who wants her help to get a stay of execution. She becomes emotionally caught in the middle between him and the families of his victims, as they wait for his day to die.
BOTTOM LINE: An emotionally gut wrenching film based on a true story that will truly make you stop and think differently about the death penalty. Robbins does a brilliant job in "fairly" capturing both sides of this complex issue. Of course, it's the gripping turns by Sarandon and Penn that really make this film work. Sarandon has never been more strong and soulful than she is here as the nun who tries to bring peace and spirituality to Penn's initially unrepentant killer. The crime he commits, along with a partner, is one of the toughest scenes you will ever watch onscreen. There have been more brutal murders, but none as senseless and cruel.
You think the film is against capital punishment, making you care for Penn, seeing him begin to feel remorse for his actions and become a better person, and then it switches gears by showing you his crime (and it's affect on his victims families). Despite his newfound love for humanity, his actions and their repercussions make you want to see him fry. The relationship that develops between these two characters is truly heartbreaking, considering how it's going to end up. Penn and Sarandon give the best performances of their careers. I thought I knew where I stood on this issue, but this film really makes you rethink your ideas about justice and whether human beings have the right to mete it out. DEAD MAN is certainly not a film one can watch very often, but it is one everyone should see.