Film Scouts Reviews

"Sling Blade"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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It is thought provoking movies like "Sling Blade" that make festivals well attended. And give actors a chance to do what they love, delve into a character. Billy Bob Thornton has written, directed and stars in a violence story with no violence. There is plenty of implied violence but thankfully none of it shows up on screen. As a retarded child, Karl killed his mother and her lover and is sent to the state mental hospital. His time served and being deemed "cured", he is sent back into the world. Befriended by Frank, charmingly played by fourteen year old Lucas Black, Karl comes to live in an abusive household headed by Dwight Yoakam as the alcoholic Doyle. In his own simple way, Karl confronts his past in the form of his now reclusive father, Robert Duvall and make moral decisions.

You know that everyone involved in the project really wanted to be there when Robert Duvall, J.T. Walsh and John Ritter show up in supporting roles. Ritter came to the festival to lend his encouragement to the film and has to be praised not only for his acting but also for his willingness to reinvent himself and take chances.

Billy Bob Thornton has been praised for his screenplays "One False Move" and "A Family Thing" co-written with Tom Epperson. While they focused on the tenuous nature of black-white relations, here he takes a look at the fuzzy line between right and wrong. Thornton wrote the script with friends in mind such as Ritter whom he worked with for three years on the CBS series 'Hearts Afire' and Duvall from "A Family Thing". Even fellow director Jim Jarmusch shows up as a Frostee Cream waiter. Since Miramax will be distributing this gem, keep an eye open for it.

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