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Clemency 15 rating

Alfre Woodard is quietly devastating as a weary prison warden presiding over her twelfth execution, in this Sundance-winning death row drama.

Drama 2019 112 mins

Director: Chinonye Chukwu

CC

Overview

Chinonye Chukwu became the first black female filmmaker to win the top prize at Sundance Film Festival with this unsentimental death row drama. Clemency opens with experienced prison warden Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) overseeing a lethal injection that goes agonisingly wrong. Botching ‘the procedure’ heightens scrutiny over her next execution, of convicted cop killer Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge) who maintains his innocence.

Woodard delivers a stunning performance as methodical authority figure Bernadine, whose necessary professionalism has made her emotionally unavailable to husband Jonathan (The Wire’s Wendell Pierce). No amount of after-work drinking will make the nightmares stop. And she’s not alone; her exhaustion is mirrored by Woods’ dedicated lawyer Marty (The West Wing’s Richard Schiff), in this precisely calibrated portrait of capital punishment’s ethical corrosion.

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