Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sling Blade. A-

Disturbing and powerful are two words that fit 'Sling Blade' quite well. Billy Bob Thornton stars (he also writes and directs) as Karl, a mentally unstable man who is being held in prison for a deadly crime he committed way back when he was 12 years old. Now he's being allowed a release from the prison, only he doesn't have anywhere to go. He manages to get a job at an engine repair shop, due to his knack for fixing things. Then he meets Frank (Lucas Black), a young boy who doesn't find anything wrong with Karl, despite having found out about his crime. He invites Karl to meet his mother at the dollar store where she works, and he is then invited to stay with them. This begins a major conflict between Karl and Frank's mother's pugnacious boyfriend, Doyle (Dwight Yoakam). The key to Sling Blade's success is the extraordinary performance by Thornton. To me he's always been a great actor, even in raunchy comedies like 'Bad Santa.' Here he shows that he can handle a dramatic role as good as Hollywood's best. The supporting cast is also strong. The character of Karl is worth pondering. He obviously has mental problems, but he also seems to have a greater sensitivity than most of the people who he encounters. He knows what is right, but his way of dealing with wrong is the reason he lives most of his life behind bars. 'Sling Blade' is for mature audiences, more for its subject matters than its content. It is a powerful, and deeply moving film.

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