JONATHAN DEMME | USA | ENGLISH | 1998 | 172 MIN
Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel received a faithful adaptation courtesy of late filmmaker Jonathan Demme, whose daring work blends horror and historical drama.
Successfully bringing one of the most acclaimed novels of the 20th Century to the big screen is a tall order, but Jonathan Demme managed to capture the same mournful, furious spirit of his source material with BELOVED. In this troubling allegory of slavery’s traumatic impact, Oprah Winfrey gives a career-best performance as Sethe, a former slave attempting to build a life for herself and her daughter in post-Civil War Ohio. Just as she begins to find something resembling domestic peace with new lover Paul D. (Danny Glover), a mysterious young woman appears in front of Sethe’s home, triggering a combination of fierce, maternal love and bottomless regret. The woman (Thandie Newton) calls herself “BELOVED,” and she serves as a walking reminder of the single, horrific incident that continues to torment Sethe. It’s a testament to Demme’s bravery as a director that the film makes no effort to sand away the novel’s audacious narrative turns and emotional ambiguities, allowing elements of horror, eroticism, and family drama to mix freely to form one unclassifiable and unforgettable whole.
CAST: Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, Kimberly Elise
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