NASHVILLE, TN — Among the many questionable omissions of Black performers from major awards consideration, none seems more glaring according to many critics than the absence of Alfre Woodard. She is the principal star in the film “Clemency,” which opens at the Belcourt Friday. It is written and directed by rising star Chinonye Chukwu, and co-stars Richard Schiff, Danielle Brooks, Michael O’Neill, Richard Gunn, Wendell Pierce and Aldis Hodge
It was a sensation at the Sundance Film Festival, and both Woodard’s performance and the overall writing, direction, score and production have been heavily praised. It received a limited opening Dec. 27 to be eligible for Oscar nominations, but that proved fruitless.
A simplistic view would be to label the film an anti death penalty statement, and that does succinctly describe the underlying thread. But it is also about the toll state sanctioned killing takes on everyone involved, and the fact it seldom brings to the victims of horrible crimes the relief and sense of justice its advocates claim it will.
The film received a 92 rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has earned universally favorable reviews from multiple sources. It earned the top prize at Sundance.