A review of the NEW film “Clemency”

After four months of the coronavirus lockdown, I was desperate to visit a theatre and see a new movie on the big screen. So I went to view whatever was showing on the first evening of the first cinema to open in central London. “Clemency” is hardly the most uplifting choice for such an occasion, since it is a serious and slow-moving work dealing with capital punishment in the United States and the impending execution of a black prisoner innocent of the murder for which he was convicted. 

But this is an important film. both for its provenance and its subject. The writer/director is Nigerian-American Chinonye Chukwu; the lead actor and excutive producer is African-American Alfre Woodard who is the prison warden; and most of the leading roles are black characters including Aldis Hodge as the prisoner awaiting death. We see how the death sentence can not only be a terrible misjustice but a corruption of all who find themselves part of the process.

The film was released at an inauspicous time but should garner an Academy Award nomination for Woodard’s wonderful performance and stimulate further debate on this horrific practice.


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