The Hurricane (1999)

(In French, On TV, June 2015) What annoys me the most about earnest, well-made, socially-conscious films is the lousy feeling I get when I’m less than entirely positive about them.  There’s little actually wrong about The Hurricane, the story of a black boxer, Rubin Carter, imprisoned for a triple murder he is said not to have committed.  (The historical record, outside the film, is considerably less affirmative.)  That story picks up decades later when a young black man decides to take up the cause of the imprisoned Carter, eventually becoming a lawyer and freeing him.  It’s a technically accomplished film, with veteran Canadian director Norman Jewison at the helm (it’s a bit of a nationalistic thrill seeing the Toronto waterfront being presented as-is) and it couldn’t wish for a better performance from Denzel Washington as Carter.  And yet, as I watched the film, I just couldn’t get into it –the emotional beats seemed not only blatant, but overused; the do-gooders a bit too saintly; the narrative a bit too neat and predictable.  It’s also interminable, especially if you don’t entirely commit to the subject matter.  I’m not dismissing the film –I’m simply reporting on my reaction.  The Hurricane is successful at what it attempts, but as far as I’m concerned it falls flat.  I hope your own reaction differs.

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