Dead Man Walking


Sean Penn is magnetic in Tim Robbins' clear-eyed portrait of a murderer

Almost 20 years on, Tim Robbins’ clear-eyed portrait of a man condemned to death row has lost none of its uneasy potency, in large part because the US stance on capital punishment hasn’t come half as far as you’d have hoped in the time.

Sean Penn doesn’t spend a moment courting sympathy as the unrepentant murderer, but he’s magnetic nonetheless and sparks a thrilling, troubling dynamic with Susan Sarandon’s crusading nun.

If Robbins’ script is at times overwritten, his direction is uncompromising, graceful and eventually crushing, culminating in one of the most powerful closing sequences in cinematic memory.

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