‘Clemency’ Review

By: Taylor Nute tvnute@plymouth.edu

The Flying Monkey here in Plymouth recently showed the award-winning movie “Clemency.” The movie was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in January 2019 and was released in December 2019. Clemency tells the story of a death row prison warden, Bernadine Williams, and the psychological toll that her jobtakes on her.

Warning: there will be spoilers for the movie in this review!

The film drops its viewers right into the intense drama by showing the execution of a death row inmate. The execution goes wrong and the inmate experiences intense pain before passing away. This causes Williams to finally face her own psychological demons and question the ethics of her job. She has no chance to rest, as it’s almost time for the next execution; this time, it’s Anthony Woods who was wrongly convicted of murder. Throughout the film, protestors are seen outside Williams’ office, attempting to get Woods freed from jail. Unfortunately, the movie ends with his execution. This action is what finally brings Williams to leave her job.

“Clemency” gives viewers a very real, raw look into a mentally taxing job. It also shows the harsh reality of being a death row inmate; the inmate has no idea when their execution will take place. Although the movie moves a bit slow sometimes, I think that it was done on purpose to tell the story. The writers wanted the audience to get a sense of what the wait for death row inmates is like. The slow parts create feelings of anxiety for the viewer and bring interesting questions into view: will Woods be executed? Will Williams do anything to stop it before it happens?

The slow parts create feelings of anxiety for the viewer and bring interesting questions into view.

Taylor Nute

Alfre Woodard, who plays Bernadine Williams, fully portrays all the emotions expected of the role. She brings an unparalleled energy to the movie and makes theviewer believe that they are really witnessing harsh prison life. Aldris Hodge, who plays Anthony Woods, also brings intense emotion to his part in the movie. The two create a dynamic that is an integral part of the film. They, along with many other talented actors and actresses, deliver a stunning performance.

I would definitely recommend seeing this movie if you get the chance. Even ifit doesn’t seem like a subject you’d be interested in, you’ll still get drawn into it from the start, just like I did.