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Murder on a Sunday Morning (2001)

Un coupable idéal (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Documentary | 26 February 2003 (France)
Oscar-winning documentary that documents a murder trial in which a 15-year-old African-American is wrongfully accused of a 2000 murder in Jacksonville, Florida.
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Ann Finnell ...
Herself
Patrick McGuinness ...
Himself
James Williams ...
Himself (as Detective James Williams)
Michael Glover ...
Himself (as Detective Michael Glover)
Dwayne Darnell ...
Himself (as Detective Dwayne Darnell)
Brenton Butler ...
Himself
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Storyline

On May 7, 2000, in the parking lot of the Ramada Inn in Jacksonville, Florida, 65-year-old Mary Ann Stephens is shot in the head before her husband's eyes. Ninety minutes later, 15-year-old Brenton Butler is arrested. For the investigators and the media it's just another messed-up youth, just another wasted life. Written by Jwelch5742

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Genres:

Crime | Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

26 February 2003 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Murder on a Sunday Morning  »

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1.85 : 1
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References Casablanca (1942) See more »

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User Reviews

An Important Film
21 July 2003 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

The subtext which usually emerges when simplicity is avoided in the telling of a morality tale is that good and evil are actually arbitrary. The fresh and shocking impact of this film is that the contrast between good and evil is sharp and clear. So rarely do we see that contrast today that we feel revived from moral slumber, even if momentarily. That's the essence of great storytelling.

Had this documentary told a tale which took place in 1965, I would have thought the film's straightfaced, understated delivery to be somewhat unengaging. However, the fact that the story takes place in 2000 and within our modern police system, it makes for a devastating revelation. The characters are archetypal, as emblemanic as the point being made. Racism, indolence and ineptitude rarely find a stage where they can be observed so pure. We also rarely get the opportunity to watch good people shake the system into behaving the way it should. This film should not be criticized for it's simplicity of point and of it's characters - if anything, we should be thankful that such characters exist and have endured this ordeal. It is a necessary and important distillation of where we still are as a nation - powerfully principled yet terribly flawed. The film is one-sided, as it should be (innocent until proven guilty), and it is deeply moving.

To classify this film as a "northern liberal's wet dream" (as one online reviewer has unfairly done) is to engage the cynicism which habitually complicates and frustrates communication of basic ideas; it smacks of neo-Hollywood. The undergraduate writer's urge to dilute good with poison and draw virtue from evil is not always evidence of genuine profundity. More often than not, it's simply cloudy and ill-defined values.


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