Friday, July 8, 2011

The Shawshank Redemption

1994, 141m

A riveting drama about life in a US prison. A young banker is awarded a double life sentence for killing his wife and her lover, a crime of which he is fact not guilty. The story is mainly about the corruption and brutality of the officials as well as the inmates towards each other. It has many twists and turns and tests one's credulity at many points. It is based on a clever and skillful Stephen King yarn, after all.

It might be termed a modern fable about the travails of imprisonment, with a somewhat far fetched happy ending appended which was probably responsible for it's popularity over the years. Somewhere along the way it gets confused between chronicling the harsh realities of prison and it's determination to insinuate the soaring human spirit, in this case not unaided by luck.

The fairy tale finale seems like a conjurer's trick. In any case, to escape from the prison after thirty and forty years respectively and land oneself into an idyllic Zululand-on-the Sea is a conclusion lacking in depth and power hardly qualifying for the word redemption. Brooks as the aging librarian who is paroled after fifty years but fails to connect with the world he encounters outside, choosing to end his life, is a more convincing figure, apiece with the magnitude and duration of the suffering. Andrew Duresme is no Count of Monte Cristo with the cleansing vindictive flame--he remains a clever Mozart loving banker, a sore thumb in the environment into which chance lands him. Dead Man Walking was a far more consistently knit and powerful film of the genre.

Overall, a juvenile romance with touches of soap, which manages to grip your attention for it's long running time. So now we know that good does triumph over evil, and how.

Washington Post Review

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