While it is not perfect, it is overall a good movie that comes pretty close to perfection by a director that seems to have a "made for TV movie" calling in life. The film is about a teen girl convicted of murder and awaiting her sentence which may result in her execution, which clearly will end up bringing forth quite a few questions of morality, and what I personally like most about that, is the aspect that almost none of the characters in the film are fully GOOD or BAD or RIGHT or WRONG, though I know that will alienate some viewers, failing to find a "hero". Each character seems very human, with human frailties that are hard to avoid in difficult situations, and being that there IS no true "hero" or "villain" in this movie, this seems like a great method to provoke true moral contemplation for anyone willing to partake. As it is quite accurately phrased in the film during the very convincing closing arguments of the court case which is otherwise not shown, thus giving courtroom drama lovers something to enjoy, and sparing courtroom drama haters: "There is no villain, all involved are victims of our troubled times."
The acting is quite decent, with Juliette Lewis delivering I would say without exaggeration, an Oscar worthy performance with so much passion, seeming to prompt the other actors who you might not expect to do as well, to give it their all. I couldn't imagine any actor seeming so authentically depressed and sorrowful throughout an entire movie without yelling things in the mirror every morning like. "you're fat! you're stupid! you're a waste of life!" as preparation.
In terms of flaws I found that the whole arrest near the end seemed a little too much of a forced wrap up to the movie, with tons of police cars seeming to come out of nowhere, the police having no apparent leads on the case aside from two cartoonishly awful perpetrator sketches, and in this scene it didn't show the reaction between Brad Pitt, and the other actor inside the van, who would likely be yelling at him for trying to outrun the police. Also, though I have little first hand knowledge of this, it seems a bit implausible that a strip bar owner would hire an underage dancer without even asking proof of age, especially given that this particular strip club was being frequented by many army personnel. Indeed there have been famous cases where 14 year olds have worked in strip bars, but all the ones I know of needed fake I.D's and big tits to do so, neither of which Juliette Lewis had. Perhaps in small towns they just don't take the law seriously??? Another reviewer said this was a bad movie, because on a website listing underage perpetrators convicted to death for murder, none were as young as 15 at the time, which I think is a moot point, because who is to say there won't ever be, which is perhaps one of the moral questions this film tries to invoke.
In the end, if you're interested in moral questions in general, if you're like me and you enjoy seeing movies about teenagers played by ACTUAL teens who end up giving a good and raw performance unlike a lot of school trained "25 year old teenagers" we see going to high school in movies these days, it is definitely worth checking out, and especially if you have any appeal for brad Pitt or Juliette lewis, as it is the strong performance of those actors that carry this film, which is led by adequate yet underwhelming directing.
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