A painfully earnest, painfully inadequate anti-capital punishment movie, this asks us to take pity on Stone as a butch redneck hardcase whose death-row time is all used up. And we do pity her, but for the wrong reason: because Stone gives a rigorous, unglamorous and admirably low-key performance. There's a tendency to overpraise sex symbols when they take off the make-up in roles like this, as if ugliness somehow has more integrity than beauty - it doesn't - but Stone's work here is centred and hard, as layered as anything she's done, and all the more impressive for the lack of help she gets from the script. Compelling as Stone is, the film chooses to make Morrow's lawyer the dramatic focal point - and that's its undoing, because the character never rings true. A rich kid whose brother (Gallagher) gets him on the Governor's staff as a favour, Morrow is told to assess Stone's appeal for clemency before her politically expedient execution is carried out. For reasons which remain sketchy, he throws himself into the job and soon sets about re-opening the case. This legal beagle stuff is thin and risibly melodramatic. The film isn't a travesty, but it feels uncomfortably close to one.
Cast and crew