Gospel Hill is about haunted men, the former Sheriff of the southern town dealing with past sins, and the former civil rights worker withdrawn since the martyrdom of his father thirty years before. Their final confrontation comes when a corporation descends on the town, echoing a struggle thirty years old. Written by
Simon Baker was hired for the role of Carl Herrod, but had to bow out at the last minute, due to scheduling conflicts. His name was even advertised on pre-production billboards at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007. The part went to Adam Baldwin, eventually. See more »
Samuel L. Jackson's character is called Paul Malcolm throughout the movie but the end credits list him as Peter Malcolm. See more »
The town of Julia SC is approaching the 40th anniversary of the assassination of its leading civil rights figure, just as it is contemplating tearing down GOSPEL HILL -- its historic black district -- for a golf course. Can the many characters of this drama find redemption in racial reconciliation, or will it ignore its history for the price of a few jobs from a rapacious developer?
This fascinating drama, which works harder than any recent movie I have seen at capturing the rhythms of the current-day small-town South, deserved a bigger audience than it is getting on DVD and cable. However, the movie does not entirely succeed, simply because it is trying to depict a fairly complicated community in two hours, and to get its mission done, it reaches far too often for handy clichés. (You know the ones -- outside corporations are by definition super-evil, every white man is at least a little bit racist, and there is a rich cabal outside the main action of the drama who really control everything.) The most successful dramas in recent years dealing with smaller communities (Twin Peaks, Friday Night Lights) have been TV shows which have more time to develop characters and a sense of community. This movie, which has too many major characters to develop, has the right idea in its pacing, and its allowance in all but one of its main characters some shades of gray. But it can't quite get to a believable conclusion of redemption, because the movie running time was not there. Considering the elephantitis of so many content free films these days, it is a shame the movie makers did not have the budget or the runtime to put more meat on its fascinating subplots.
This guy needs another chance at his subject. Because he understands the South, and the way that southern towns are so often haunted by their past. Hopefully, he'll get a miniseries on cable to demonstrate it.
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