"Sling Blade" is an emotionally exhausting picture which establishes Billy
Bob Thornton as one of our very best actors, writers, and directors. This
story of a mentally handicapped man committed to a mental hospital for a
childhood double murder, and his attempt to make it in the outside world,
avoids the usual stereotypes about the closed-minded townsfolk and their
prejudice against someone like Karl Childers, Thornton's character.
Indeed, upon his release Childers is given a mechanic's job and befriends a young boy, his widowed mother, and her gay best friend (played by an unrecognizable John Ritter). Unfortunately, the mother's drunken, violent boyfriend - Dwight Yoakam in a dark, effective performance - cannot accept Karl getting in the way of his relationship, and Childers must ultimately defend his new "family" the only way he knows how.
The tragedy of "Sling Blade" is that Childers is a basically gentle soul whose abusive childhood - his father (Robert Duvall in a cameo) and mother made him live in a shed behind the house - and marginal intelligence have made him unable to function without violence. More importantly, deep down Childers knows this; he knows he cannot function as a free man, and simply cannot protect the ones he loves without violence. The result is one of the most sympathetic characters I have ever seen in a movie. This film is one of the great movies of the decade. (9/10)
Action / Drama
Action / Drama
A partially handicapped man named Karl is released from a mental hospital, about 20 years after murdering his mother and another person. Karl is often questioned if he will ever kill again, and he shrugs in response saying there is no reason to. Now out of the mental institution, Karl settles in his old, small hometown, occupying himself by fixing motors. After meeting a young boy named Frank, who befriends him, Karl is invited to stay at Frank's house with his mother Linda, who views Karl as a strange but kind and generous man. However, Linda's abusive boyfriend, Doyle, sees things differently in the way rules ought to be run- normally insulting Linda's homosexual friend Vaughan as well as Karl's disabilities, and having wild parties with his friends. As Karl's relationship with Frank grows, he is watchful of Doyle's cruel actions.
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January 31, 2012 at 11:18 AM