Movie Reviews
1:11 pm
Wed February 15, 2006

Freedomland

Julianne Moore looking for a child again.

Julianne Moore is looking for a child again, but this time it's real time, hardscrabble New Jersey projects rather than the mind of a perplexing mom (Forgotten, 2004). Moore plays Brenda Martin, who claims to have lost her son to a carjacker who absconded with her son sleeping in the back seat? Veteran detective Lorenzo Council is indeed the counseling type whose patience with the ranting Martin wears thin as he suspects lies among her details of the abduction.

Director Joe Roth seems to be more interested in the racial combustion inherent in the situation. In fact, he goes to lengths to show white police confronting black protesters, who are rightfully furious at the support for the disappearance of one white child when many more black missing children barely cause a ripple. Roth doesn't let it all go too deeply into contemporary racial politics while by comparison he gives ample time for Council to ruminate on his responsibility for his son's incarceration for armed robbery. Even the conflict between Martin's cop brother's desire for revenge and Council's attempts to keep his blue-collar burb of Gannon out of the project is underdeveloped, apparently left among the editing ruins.

A nice touch is the presence of a volunteer group looking for missing children, headed by Edie Falco's Karen Collucci, who has a missing child for 10 years. The group offers a sane oasis amid the fire of the social tensions, and Collucci offers advice and insight far ahead of any smart detective's. Falco upstages Jackson with a gritty sincerity and cool that could win her mayor of Manhattan if she so wished.

Freedomland turns on social tension but never gives it a chance to develop. The issues are lost like the child among too much Martin moaning.