Movie Review: Sling Blade

Released in 1996, Sling Blade is definitely an older movie. There’s no guns and violence, no language or special effects. Nothing that says ‘Hollywood’.

It is, however, one of the most beautifully done dramas I’ve seen.

Billy Bob Thornton wrote, directed and starred in the film. It was what launched him into stardom.

Highly acclaimed and awarded, Sling Blade is set in small-town Arkansas. Following the brief stint from the time the mentally-challenged Karl leaves the mental ward, to the time he returns, Sling Blade keeps tightly focused on Karl’s point of view. Karl has been in a mental ward since he was a child, and the big world is scary.

Sling Blade shows Karl’s love of the people who take him into their homes–despite the crime that landed him in the mental ward–and his attempt to adjust to the big world. Befriended by a widow and her son, and by the gay man who loves both of them as his own family, Karl moves quietly through his new world. He doesn’t cause waves. His course brings him into conflict with the widow’s boyfriend, and Karl soon has to make a choice between his freedom and protecting the family he loves.

The Washington Post called it a “masterpiece of Southern storytelling.” Kevin Thomas wrote in the Los Angeles Times that the film is “a mesmerizing parable of good and evil and a splendid example of Southern storytelling at its most poetic and imaginative.”

Composed by Canadian Daniel Lanois, the soundtrack to the movie is a nice balance of lively and haunting, setting off the story beautifully.

I highly recommend this movie for a quieter evening.

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