Having survived the hatred and bigotry that was his Klansman grandfather's only legacy, young attorney Adam Hall seeks at the last minute to appeal the old man's death sentence for the murder of two small Jewish boys 30 years before. Only four weeks before Sam Cayhall is to be executed, Adam meets his grandfather for the first time in the Mississippi prison which has held him since the crime. The meeting is predictably tense when the educated, young Mr. "Hall" confronts his venom-spewing elder, Mr. "Cayhall," about the murders. The next day, headlines run proclaiming Adam the grandson who has come to the state to save his grandfather, the infamous Ku Klux Klan bomber. While the old man's life lies in the balance, Adam's motivation in fighting this battle becomes clear as the story unfolds. Not only does he fight for his grandfather, but perhaps for himself as well. He has come to heal the wounds of his own father's suicide, to mitigate the secret shame he has always felt for the ...Written by
Mark Fleetwood <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The second of two films scored by Composer Carter Burwell for Director James Foley in 1996. The other was Fear which had been released by Universal Pictures earlier in 1996. See more »
When Lee (Faye Dunaway) shows Adam (Chris O'Donnell) the photo allegedly of her father at a lynching in Mississippi as a boy, it is actually the iconic photograph of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Indiana. The young Sam Cayhill has been edited into the original photograph. See more »
Most reviews on this site, neglect to mention how vividly the film captures the racist politics of the American South at this time. The actions of all politicians reveals how difficult it can be to seek justice. They are always looking sideways. Also the crowd outside the execution site shows how easy it is to stir up mob emotion. Again, nicely laid out and captured on film. The film visually translated Grishelm's understanding of Southern culture and politics.
I also thought Chris O'Donnell captured the intensity of someone who is confronting his family's past. The camera work, which holds on his face, assists in helping us to see the quiet determination with which he works. (The camera is a good replacement for the interior monologue of fiction!)I also liked the flash-backs which help him to comprehend just where his father came from and why suicide might have been a response.
This film is timely today in lieu of the polarization of American politics. Scary stuff!
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