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The film philosophical approach at redemption. The protagonist Manual Jordan has gotten parole from a life sentence for the murder of Abner Easley, and returns to the city he lived in to try to seek redemption. He ends up living and working at a community house run by a preacher, Miles Evans. The film is equipped with beautiful voice-overs about the meaning of life and different philosophies for getting redeemed. Manual also becomes friends with Adele Easley, his victims sister, in an attempt to make up for what he did. While working at the home he has interactions with Sofia Mellinger, the druggie daughter of a famous singer, struggling with the lack of adult guidance in her life. Written by
One of the greatest problems in Hollywood today is the misperception that for a movie to be a winner, you need gunfights, women in tight clothes, sexual innuendoes, and few dozen explosions. Levity has none of these, and it shines.
Billy Bob Thornton play Emmanuel Jordan, a man released from prison for killing a convenience store clerk. Jordan appears genuinely humbled by his experience, a man deeply in need of redemption: his eyes are sunken, his hair grown long, and one cannot help but think that all he needs to complete the look is a sackcloth and ashes on his forehead. Too many ex-convicts in films are leering madman, already planning their next caper. Even the character's name speaks of a spiritual role: Jordan means, "Descending"; Emmanuel means, "God is with us".
Pulled from the street by Miles Evans (Morgan Freeman), a tired preacher running a mission, Jordan begins his duties as a custodian, working with quiet efficiency. He also begins working on his redemption, following the steps laid out in a medieval manuscript. One of the steps involves giving back to the ones you've hurt. He seeks out Adele Easley, the sister of the teenager he killed and begins adding to her life. She is a single mother, struggling to correct the life of her son, whom she has named Abner, after her dead brother. Jordan also finds time to work with Sofia Mellinger (Kirsten Dunst), a teenager who seems to be self-destructing in front of his very eyes.
It's been said that when one takes a life, you remain one step removed from the rest of the humanity. That is the way Jordan looks and moves. Early in the film he is standing in an underground passage, and everyone else is moving around him. His eyes--which look convincingly haunted--stare at the jostling crowds with a numbness that leaves you chilled. Though the troubled youths he works with mock his sallow face, they themselves are living close to death themselves (gunshots and drive-bys riddle their conversations) but are unaware of its power or consequences. Jordan, sadder and wiser, struggles to make them aware the fragility of their lives; like the prophet he is named after, he has much wisdom to offer, but knows not how to give voice to it.
One of the great messages of this film is that appearances are deceiving. Sofia seems to be the happy-go-lucky teenager, but Jordan learns she is living in a soon-to-be foreclosed house, and has virtually nothing to her name. Adele, though beautiful, has more demons than her dead brother. Even Preacher Miles is hiding a wounded soul, and his final secret leaves you stunned. The cityscape itself (Montreal, Canada) seems shiny, but their is a cold texture beneath which deals mercilessly with its inhabitants.
Levity is a keeper, and should be seen by all. Like its message, the quiet cast hides much beneath its quiet exterior.
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