Free In Deed

Free In Deed ★★★★½

[Seen at the 2016 Nashville Film Festival]

I'll admit that this film fits squarely into a few wheelhouses for me. I love Southern films (it was shot in Memphis with a largely Memphis cast/crew). I love Christian films that aren't "Christian films" (churches in Memphis were graciously involved in this movie, which I find both surprising and comforting). And my mother was a special education teacher for two decades, so I can sympathize with that scenario.

This movie is heavy. So, so heavy, like it's trying to swallow you. Sometimes that comes out in the editing, where we see maybe a bit too many scenes/minutes of the worship services that begat the events that take place. But when it's on, this is an incredibly powerful story—hard to watch but you can't look away.

David Harewood is phenomenal in the lead role, and the supporting characters (many of whom are first-time actors or non-actors) do a fine job around him.

There's a lot to love stylistically too. Felt almost like cinema verité at times, and there are some really interesting movements with a few longer takes, especially the last shot. (And what a last shot that is.)

This is the sort of film that lots of folks will only want to see once. But it's also the sort of film that everyone should see once.

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