[This is the sixteenth in a series that will probably be VERY intermittent, if I remember to post at all. I've long known that while I have given my share of 10-out-of-10 ratings for movies over the years, in almost every case, those movies are fairly old. So I got this idea to go back and revisit movies of relatively recent vintage that I gave a rating of 9, to see if time and perspective convinced me to bump that rating up to 10. Of course, it's always possible I'll drop the rating, but time will tell.]
I first saw The Exonerated in 2005. This is where I usually paste something from my original review, but I never actually wrote about the movie until now. It's a TV movie of a different type, at least for me, at least in 2005: it comes from Court TV, rather than the usual HBO or Netflix (well, Netflix wasn't the Netflix we know today, yet).
It's easy to see why I was so high on the movie when I saw it that first time. It's well-written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, from their play. The presentation is spare but effective. And the stories are gripping. We meet six people who were sentenced to death row for crimes they did not commit. The words that we hear are from actual transcripts and interviews, and the actors chosen to portray the six are exemplary (Brian Dennehy, Danny Glover, Delroy Lindo, Aidan Quinn, and Susan Sarandon, as well as new-to-me David Brown, Jr.).
Yet I feel like I understand why I didn't go all the way to the top with my rating. There's nothing wrong with being "stage-bound" ... A Streetcar Named Desire is one of my favorite movies. But we're always aware of the theater source of The Exonerated, and that distracted me. Also, we believe the stories we are hearing, and for the most part, it seems Blank and Jensen got it right, but one of the six apparently turned out to be guilty after all, which casts doubt on the entire production. Which isn't fair, but there you are.
So I still think The Exonerated is a fine film, but it's closer to an 8 than it is to a 10.