Clemency movie poster
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Clemency
Clemency movie poster

Clemency Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

Clemency isn’t a movie that deserves the death penalty, as its crime is much more pedestrian: it simply isn’t very memorable.

The award-caliber wannabe features an emotional performance by Alfre Woodard, and nothing about is particularly off, but the movie feels like it is trying just a little too hard to be something it’s not: something special.

Woodard plays a prison warden whose life faces upheaval as she starts to have regrets about executing her second inmate in as many weeks, a man who perhaps doesn’t deserve to die. Her emotional journey affects her job and her relationship with her husband.

Woodard makes the most of her role, but the writing doesn’t quite give her enough to do with her immense talent. As good as she is, the only thing I can really remember about her performance two weeks later is that she was sad most of the time.

Nonetheless, you can tell director Chinonye Chukwu had her heart in the right place and possesses some passion for the subject, something that can’t be said for Just Mercy, another wannabe released around the same time that also deals with the death penalty, albeit from another angle. Combine the two films in some way—Just Mercy’s true life hook with Clemency’s emotional power—and you may have something, but as is, Clemency is just a sob story without much else.

Clemency is by no means a bad movie, but it is far from great. Best to throw the book at it and move onto the next case.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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