Joe Roth has directed his movie adaptation of Richard Price's great American novel Freedomland as if it were a pilot for a new forensic series set in Jersey. The music blares, the camera bobs and the editing flashes to a cavalcade of ticked-off characters. A dazed white woman, Brenda Martin (Julianne Moore), passes through a housing project in the fictional city of Dempsy, N.J. It's a landscape of disaster, filled with crated refrigerators and candle-lit marchers urging law enforcers to seek missing children.
Brenda, apparently in shock, says that a black man jacked her car in the murky borderland between Dempsy and a white town, Gannon, where she lives and where her brother Danny (Ron Eldard) toils as a cop. Only under the ministrations of longtime Dempsy project cop Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson) does she remember that her son was in the back seat as the jacker peeled out.
Freedomland (Sony) Starring Julianne Moore, Samuel L. Jackson and Edie Falco. Directed by Joe Roth. Rated R. Time 121 minutes.