Billy Bob Thornton's fresh out of jail in Levity as Manual Jordan, a murderer who returns to the scene of the crime after a 21 year sentence. Desperate to atone for his sins, Jordan's armed with a greying Cobain mullet, a thousand yard stare, and a kindly manner that's seized on by a God squad pastor (Morgan Freeman), who hires him as custodian at a ghetto community centre. A distinct lack of levity makes redemption a bore, as first time helmer Ed Solomon joins the dots on his own script.
Stumbling through the winter snow, harassed by flashbacks to his teenage crime, Jordan's a haunted soul in need of forgiveness. So gloomy he bores himself, Thornton plays him like a soft-spoken ghost of Christmas past with a faintly messianic edge - something wilfully exaggerated by cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose gorgeous but eventually cloying soft-focus lense work turns the ghetto's sunbeams and snow flakes into a vision of heavenly light.
"HOLLY HUNTER STEALS SCENES"
A film of supporting players in search of a lead actor with a pulse, events only really come to life when one of the clogged up plot's secondary characters comes out to play: Holly Hunter steals scenes as the sister of Jordan's teenage victim, while Morgan Freeman puts on a funny voice to play his toking ghetto pastor. Kirsten Dunst gets saddled with the unlikely role of a rich kid clubber who learns to hang with the homeboys and give something back to the community.
Writer turned director Ed Solomon wants us to believe that this is a profound tale about sin and redemption, but there's probably more depth in the furrows of Thornton's permanently wrinkled brow. Solomon's previous screenwriting credits include Men In Black and the Bill & Ted movies - so perhaps he's just trying to atone for his own past sins. Whatever the case, brevity would have been more forgivable for all concerned.