(Originally reviewed: 17/03/2017) A picture that is elevated by the strength of its lead performances, Thornton play's it quiet so Halle Berry can take centre stage and deliver an emotional powerhouse of a performance. Despite one or two problems like the build up to a character's death that has little to no reasoning behind it that expects us to believe that 'because his father did not like him', he got depressed and shot himself; which is something that I just found rather unbelievable and another sequence where a child dies, and the hospital staff have a lack of respect during the situation; in which looked like one woman was smirking when Berry started crying; but other than these scenes; the picture does work, having plenty of assertive dialogue, looking adequate; cinematography and location wise and a last half an hour that is truly impressive.
Halle Berry (Leticia) the widower of the executed killer give's perhaps her best performance to date, as an emotionally out of control woman, that's losing her house, has lost her husband and is poised to pull extra shift's at work to be able to cope with her son; and I really wanted her character to end up happy in the end, because here was a woman with a lot of personality and likability. The prison guard Hank is played by Billy Bob Thornton and despite being racist in the beginning, and mean, you see him develop into a calmer, more helpful kind of person that is giving lift's to Berry and helping out coloured neighbours, it was a revelation to see him change his ways, and a pleasure to see the story unfold. Among the supporting cast are Heath ledger, who is very good as his son (Sonny), and Peter Boyle as Hank's nasty, racist father who is barely even able to walk to the kitchen and also mean spirited right down to his core but played well by Boyle.
The picture has some melodramatics, but there carefully done, and personally I found the story compelling and very interesting, there's some scenes that are rather better than other's but the screenplay from Milo Addica and Will Rokos is a triumph with an unconventional conclusion that see's two character's sitting down looking to the future, despite Berry's character knowing full well Thornton's secret, and seeing what she will do after finding out was always going to be predictable but somehow it wasn't, it was something surprising. Just like the racist tone of the film, it's not heavy, it's more minor with bursts of racism, and I for one found this serious, skilfully crafted story well worth my time; Forster's direction is impressive, there's a nice, realistic sex scene between Berry and Thornton and the performances are something special. All in all this is a very good drama that's never boring, paced adequately and has a more than satisfying conclusion.