Freedomland (2006) Poster


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I wanted to like it, and I did
cladrkt18 February 2006
I'll admit, I read the novel a few years ago and I was a big fan of it. So I went into the theater already wanting to like the movie. I wasn't as concerned with plot details as some other viewers apparently were. Since I knew what was going to happen, I simply focused on reliving the story, and seeing how the filmmakers interpreted it. It's such a dense novel with so much going on, I think Richard Price is the only person who could've adapted it and still kept the spirit of the original material. Now, all that being said...was it a good movie? In my opinion, yes it was. I felt empathy for all the characters (except Brenda's brother, who I felt contempt for). I was surprised that I was able to empathize with Brenda's character, but I credit Julianne Moore for that. She gave a performance that was filled with pain, and confusion, and fear, and all the emotions I would have imagined Brenda would be going through. Samuel Jackson played Lorenzo just as I hoped he would. Not over the top with a bunch of yelling and fist pounding. But as a man who realizes all too well what can happen when a white woman points the finger at a black man and yells "He did it!" The biggest problem I have with the movie is the way that it's being marketed. If I hadn't read the book, I would've never gone to see it based on it's trailer. It looks like just another missing child thriller. So I can understand why some viewers felt cheated when they saw the movie and realized that it's much more complex than that. It's about the politics of race, and how they can be manipulated. It's about the uneasy truce that exists in some communities, and how quickly a fuse can be lit to ignite tension. And most importantly, it's about people making choices that they regret, and the aftermath of those choices.

If you're looking for a missing child thriller, or a theatrical version of a CSI episode, this probably isn't for you. If a tough examination of race and class makes you uncomfortable, then don't bother with this one. But if you want to challenge yourself as a viewer, and get inside the minds of characters who are trying desperately to hold their worlds together, then I think you'll get something out of this film.
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corrie-1513 August 2006
This movie was better than people give it credit for. I thought I was in for an average flick, but I was pleasantly surprised. And no, I don't mean that you couldn't figure out the gist of the plot, but it was well done, especially the scores. The music really made the film. Julianne Moore delivered an accurate ex-drug-addicted, scattered person, and Samuel l. Jackson was right-on. I'd recommend this film to anyone who has an open mind. This film is probably a lot closer to reality than people would like to think, that's what makes it good. No, it is not a smash 'em up Hollywood style action/suspense film, but it was good nonetheless.
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Flawed and miscast but good.
barberoux24 February 2006
"Freedomland" will not be a popular movie. The movie doesn't have enough action and the action is does contain is more to promote a message than to titillate. Its message is basically about inner city racism. Its about the fuss made over a missing white child in a black community. The story is about a white women who was car-jacked in a housing project and, unknown to the jacker, her 4 year old son was in the car's back seat. You'll have to see the movie to see the rest since revealing the story would completely ruin the movie. I really enjoyed this movie. I thought the performances by Samuel Jackson, William Forsythe and Ron Eldard were realistic and affecting. One standout was Edie Falco. She played a very unglamorous role and was powerfully affecting. She should get an Academy Award nomination for this role. She was fabulous. Another standout was Julianne Moore who was very miscast. I did not like her in this role. She played a very weak, flawed and emotionally stunted individual whose behavior at times turned my stomach. I did not like the character. The character was not written to be liked, maybe pitied and I think that aspect is what Ms. Moore was trying to evoke. I think she did too good a job at making her character weak and flawed and missed a toughness that the book's character had. To live in the environment that she did she would have acquired more emotional survival skills than the movie's character portrayed. Ms. Moore's character looked like she wandered onto the set from a suburban mall. Her looks and demeanor next to the strong Black women characters made her appear too weak and her obstinacy appears to be more stupidity. I think Edie Falco could have played this role better with her strength and then the revelations and breakdown when the toughness crumbled would have been more effective. The movie is unfortunately being advertised as a thriller and audiences expecting action and things blowing up will be disappointed. "Freedomland" is one of those movies that Hollywood doesn't get or know what to do with but it is a very worthwhile movie to see. I gave it a 7 out 10. I downgraded it slightly because of Ms. Moore's performance.
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The missing child
jotix10014 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The allure of seeing Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore in the same film was what made us watch this uneven movie the other night. We knew the picture didn't fare well with the critics and the public when it made its debut early in the year, yet, with a director like Joe Roth and a screen play by the author of the novel in which it's based, Richard Price, we wondered, how could it be that bad?

The film capitalizes on the tensions created when Brenda Martin, an assistant teacher at one of the schools in the housing project, reports to have been hijacked on a lonely piece of the road next to the complex. What's worse, her four year old son was riding in the child's seat in the back. The missing boy is the nephew of a white cop from the next time, which appears to be a place where cops don't always play by the rules. Tensions in the projects are exacerbated by the white police unit from the neighboring town when they plant barricades around the complex as they look for the missing boy.

Lorenzo Council, the detective to answers the call about the hijacking senses Brenda is hiding a lot more than she is telling. Lorenzo has a good standing in the predominantly black community, but the tensions that this incident provokes puts this to a test. It doesn't take too long for him, or us, to figure out the mystery.

Julianne Moore, one of the most exciting actresses working in movies these days, shows how vulnerable she was in accepting this role for which she seems to be wrong. Samuel L. Jackson's Lorenzo doesn't fare as bad, although his appearance in the film is not as effective as in some of his best movies. Other notable faces in the cast, Edie Falco, Ron Eldard, William Forsyth, Anthony Mackie, and Aunjanue Ellis.
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Peace_Monger29 September 2008
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW That was horrific, one of the worst movies I've ever seen, Moore is trying but her performance is laughable, Jackson can't even save this film about a missing child, you will know the ending in the first 10 minutes, the premise is idiotic and the execution even worse, one of the worst performance by a leading lady EVER, I like Moore in other films( big lebowski, Boogie Nights, ext) but she is terrible, I don't know if she is supposed to be mentally challenge or what but she can't or act, the police station scene was one of the worst exchanges by two top notch actors ever, the twist was strait as an arrow, very very very bad 1/10
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Not even a good try
philwf22 February 2006
This movie was a real disappointment to me. All the elements for a fine picture were here. Good story, good actors. Sadly, the picture was not put together well. First blame should go to the director who was not able to restrict himself to the story lines he would be able to tell effectively. Next to blame is also the director who edited the film with superfluous characters and dead end plot lines. Several very good acting performances were squandered in this mishmash. Julliene Moore and Samuel L. were great (As always). Ron Eldard is a favorite of mine. He never gets the romantic lead, but provides great dramatic wallop. Unfortunately his character had nothing to do with the story. Typically, the scene where he overhears the confession of Billy is meaningless, nothing comes of it and his character disappears afterward. I'm not sure this was even a good try. Save your money.
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Most stereotyped film ever… wait, it looks quite real to me.
vmarthirial30 July 2006
First mistake of this film was marketing (after all, it's all about marketing) Billing it as a thriller/action movie with some paranormal slant was wrong. This is strictly a psychological drama with zero paranormal stuff in it.

Second mistake was to make reality too real and not idealized or artistic to stay away of the touchy issues addressed: Race, police prejudice, social differences.

So if you went to the movie theater or the rental place to watch a thrilling action film staying right on the surface of entertainment and shock value, you will be disappointed. This is a nicely acted, well constructed and most importantly, realistic drama in which a white woman blames the kidnap of her son as a carjack conducted by an African-American male.

As far as I am concern, there was no stereotyping, just realism. There was no siding on the moralistic virtues of one or other side. Actually, this is a quite profound exploration of the reasons to lie, the be racist, to fear prejudice and to resist the fact that a social interaction between poor and rich, white and black, civilian and policemen will probably be fair in a near future… not now.

My only concern was to see Ms. Moore so stressed during 90% of the film, quite impressive performance. Just hope she doesn't take this as her type-cast.
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More Moore
tedg14 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
For me, a film doesn't have to be good to be worthy if it is part of a journey I share with an artist. I just saw "Vacuuming Nude" by Boyle. Its a fantastic failure, but one you register against contexts you bring to his successful projects. Some artists are worth the investment. Its as simple as that. You need to walk with them through the dark areas and get cut also.

Julianne Moore is one of the few actors for whom I've made that decision. Its because she had a period in there of extreme ability, probably acquired. She was a nothing, then participated in some amazing workshops in layered techniques, producing the "Vanya on 42nd Street," a sort of masterpiece.

Then followed some years where she was in the Cate/Kate class. Inexplicably, she became involved with a man who is cinematically, even dramatically dull, and some years of ordinariness returned. She's bright enough to know this, which is why she attached herself to this.

As originally planned, it would have been by Winterbottom, one of an elite group of serious filmmakers committed to seriously exploring the form while respecting an actor's aspirations. For reasons unknown to me, he left. I suppose that a lessor man would have lived with some compromise or another. In this case it may well have been the acceptance of Jackson and the muddle of context that's presented here.

His "flaws" are all too manufactured. He's got a son in prison and an absent wife. He's in the middle of a theatrically centered struggle in the police force. He's a delicately balanced agent in some simple racial dynamics. He's a good man, sketched in incomplete ways. All this is supposed to introduce some complexity as he gets engaged with Moore's character.

But this situation is incoherent, so the world in which we see Moore's character simply doesn't exist. Winterbottom could have made it work, probably with a real actor, one who finds characters instead of reuses his own.

So we are left with a bunch of scattered dramatic toys surrounding what Moore is doing. But what she's doing is enough for you to spend time with this. She's attempting to re- engage with that level of being that she as an actor once had. Like her character, the surrounding circumstances don't help. She's alone in her struggle to connect. She's figuratively, killed her child.

The way she approaches her character is different than anything she has done before. She's very physical. She moves her upper torso and particularly her mouth in ways that we've never seen before. She allows herself to become possessed by some controlling being not in her domain, external.

It doesn't work in the story, of course, because the story doesn't work. But the character is darned effective. We do see at least two beings in there, merged in a way that seems to matter. We do see some of her seeing other elements of herself, fighting and negotiating, coexisting in dynamically changing ways. There's an internal story we can glimpse.

One scene does work, and its the one the title hangs on. Another woman, structured in the same way but more in control is helping Moore's character search for her lost son. They are in an abandoned institution for lost children, called Freedomland. There's an outer negotiation between the two that mirrors what Moore's created internally. Its brilliant. Its supposed to (I guess) be the dual of similar connections Jackson's character cannot make.

See it. See a soul lost to us, struggle to swim back.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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"We are going to find your son!" Agent Lorenzo (Samuel L. Jackson)
Michael Margetis22 February 2006
I think Joe Roth was aiming for something deeper with 'Freedomland'. It's not necessarily a bad movie, but it isn't really a good one either. From an acting stand-point, it's great with solid performances from Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown) as a determined police detective and Julianne Moore (The Forgotten) as a whacked-out dead-beat mom who's son has been kidnapped. Edie Falco is also pretty good with a role that's anything but Mrs. Soprano. The writing or dialogue, however, is absolutely terrible. I think 'Freedomland' actually wouldn't be a half-bad movie if the screenwriter put as much work into the character's conversations as he did the creativity of the racial epithets spewed through-out the film. 'Freedomland' annoyed me in a sense that the movie trailers made it out to be something it's not -- a taut, mystery/thriller, when in reality it's a film about racial and economical tensions. 'Freedomland' is pretentious in that it thinks it's an Oscar-caliber film when in reality it's a slightly above-average suspense film filled to the brim with tired clichés. 'Freedomland' is enjoyable if you can see through it's smug undeserved sense of brilliance. Grade: C .(screened at AMC Deer Valley 30, Phoenix, Arizona, 2/20/05)
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Two strong performances can't save this weak melodrama
christian12324 June 2006
Detective Lorenzo Council (Samuel Jackson) must separate the truth from the lies when a troubled woman (Julianne Moore) shows up at the emergency room claiming that a black man from the projects carjacked her, taking her 4-year-old son, who was sleeping in the back seat.

Freedomland is a disappointing film that fails to take advantage of its talented cast and intriguing premise. The movie fails because Joe Roth is a terrible director. He tries to handle a bunch of different issues and he just doesn't mix them very well. He also introduces different characters and subplots but he doesn't build on them. Also, for a movie tackling serious issues, it was pretty unrealistic. The whole lock-down scenario was completely over the top and unnecessary. The kidnapping story had a bunch of holes and the way the cops handled the situation was pretty irresponsible. All the characters were stereotypes and most of them were unlikable. There were a lot of scenes dealing with racism but the film never actually dealt with them or settled them. The ending was total letdown and very little was actually settled, making the whole movie experience pointless.

The acting is the film's only strong point with Samuel L. Jackson giving the best performance. His performance felt a little familiar but it was still effective and his emotions never felt forced. Julianne Moore went completely over the top with her performance. She was annoying and completely unrealistic. Also, it was hard to feel sorry for her character because she was so unlikable and her actions were just terrible. Edie Falco came out of nowhere and she gave a pretty moving performance. She played the only likable character in the film and it was easy to feel sorry for her. The rest of the supporting actors were below average and no one else broke out.

Along with the acting, there were a few other good things about the film. There were a couple of engaging scenes that could have been better if the director had built on them. The script was also decent and it could have been turned into a good film. The movie also had an interesting style to it and at least it sort of engages the viewer. While the film was pretty messy, it held my attention until the end. Of course, the performances helped with that but the storyline had a chance to build. Unfortunately, it didn't and the movie ends with a whimper. In the end, Freedomland is an annoying melodrama with very few redeeming qualities. Rating 4/10
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