| ďYouíre a free man,Ē the parole board tells
convicted felon Emmanuel Jordan, who has served 23 years for
the murder of a young store clerk during a botched robbery.
Itís clear that writer/director Ed Solomon will spend
the remainder of the film proving that no, Jordan is not a free
man. Itís not bars that keep us captive, but our own oppressive
And indeed, Levity meanders down that rather heavy-handed
path, but it saunters so elegantly that you canít really chide
the film for its faults. Chock full of some of the best actors
working todayóincluding Billy Bob Thornton, Morgan
Freeman, Holly Hunter, and Kirsten Dunstóthe
film establishes itself as a movie with a message, but one
content to preach it quietly.
Thornton stars as Jordan, who, upon his release finds employment
at a homeless shelter/youth center presided over by Miles
(the always phenomenal Freeman), a leather-wearing, truth-spouting
reverend with secrets of his own. Jordan also meets Sophia
(Dunst), a rave kid who attends parties across the street
from the shelter and comes precariously close to overdosing
on more than one occasion. While Dunst is one of the more
talented actresses of her generation, she comes across as
incredibly cloying in this outing. Itís hard to tell if the
fault lies with Solomonís construction of the role or Dunstís
The most effective character in the film is that of Adele
(Hunter), the no-nonsense sister of the man Jordan murdered.
Jordanówho canít quite find the nerve to tell her who he isóenters
into a tentative relationship with Adele, whose son seems
close to sharing Jordanís fate.
Solomonís direction is sure, allowing the actors to do what
they do best, which is to say that they look gloomy and say
thoughtful things while we anxiously wait for the other shoe
to drop. Itís obvious that Solomon loves the film he is making
by the way the camera gazes lovingly at the charactersónot
to mention that he poured $5 million of his own money into
And to be certain, it paid off. While Levity may not
be a great film, it is definitely a very good one. However,
it is a film that suffers by comparison. Thorntonís role will
bring to mind his performance in Monsterís Ball, a
film whose quality level Levityóthough it certainly
struggles admirablyócanít quite reach.