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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Levity, 2 Jun 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Levity [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
I had a high expectation for this film because of the impressive all star cast and particularly because I love Billy Bob Thornton and I was not disappointed. Levity evokes a sympathy for Manual(played by Thornton) that suprises the viewer. We don't expect to have sympathy for a killer but yet here we do. Morgan Freeman is superb as is Holly Hunter as the sister of Thorntons victim (who doesn't know of course that Thornton is her brothers murderer!)It is a great character study film that although a slower storyline than some is never boring and really has you rooting for a happy ending even though you kind of know from the start that Thornton can never 'make it right'.. Well worth the watch, thought provoking and very moving.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You know, you could get lucky. God might decide to grade you on the curve., 20 Aug 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Levity [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
After serving over twenty years in jail for the murder of a young cashier during a bungled robbery, Manual Jordan returns to the town of his crime. Hooking up with the strange minister Miles Evans, and befriending two ladies who themselves are searching for something, Manual may find redemption comes in many guises.

Well well, yet another film dealing in that tried and tested thematic called redemption. But please don't let any sort of familiarity stop you from catching this film, for on atmospherics alone this deserves to be watched, that it also boasts a cast on prime form should also be enough to tempt you in. It's an odd film any many ways, its serious nature is covered in a quirky sort of haze, the zippy soundtrack blending in with the moody ambiance created by the characters within the piece. It's with the characters, each afforded excellent fleshing by writer director Ed Solomon, that Levity rises above its simplicity. This is no film for anyone searching for histrionics and blood letting, and paced as slowly as it is, you will need to have that virtue known as patience. But for those inclined towards a philosophical approach with redemption, your patience will most assuredly be rewarded.

Billy Bob Thornton is Manual, the centre of the story, scraggy grey haired after years in prison, this is yet another Thornton performance full of emotional depth. With just one pained silent expression, Thornton has the knack of saying so much about his characters being, and here he gets to do it often. Kirsten Dunst arguably gives the best performance of her career as troubled Sofia Mellinger. The daughter of a has been singer, Sofia is missing guidance in her life, content to get stoned and amble aimlessly thru life, Dunst gives her a believability that shines during the interplay with the laconic like Thornton. Top honours go to Holly Hunter as Adele Easley, who is the main focus for Jordan's attentions {the reasons are obvious from the outset}. Adele is trying to make all the points in her life connect, a goal that appears unlikely to be achieved, with Hunter {something of an indie darling this decade} giving gravitas to Adele's confusion and state of mind. Fairing less better is Morgan Freeman as Miles Evans, not bad per se, but his fluctuating gravel voice detracts from the dark mystery lurking within the character's make up.

Nicely shot in Montréal, Québec, Canada by Roger Deakins, Levity is an interesting and smartly scripted piece. It's a given that it will not be for everyone, but it's hoped that just like it did me, it will creep up on you and stay on your mind for a few days afterwards. 8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Success from a basic startpoint, 4 May 2006
I don't think the storyline sounds much - a killer gets out of prison and full of remorse, tries to make amends with his victim's family. The acting and and a creative set of sub-plots make this into a far better movie than expected.

It works because of some great characters. You feel little for Billy Bob Thornton (the killer) as he bumbles through the plot making few decisions, this is intentional. Holly Hunter is great as the brother of the dead man and far more foxy than I expected of her. Morgan Freeman, and Kirsten Dunst bring great angles to their flawed but likeable characters.

These four actors (Dunst, Freeman, Hunter, Thornton) and some great writing and directing turn this basic plot into what ends up as a very good film. It is believable and involving, and the simple story line is not a limitation, but more of a starting point from which characters and sub plots develop.

Unusually the incidental music brings a lot of tension and confusion in the right places; I've never felt this aspect to be notable in a film before.

The plot isn't particularly inventive, but fairly warming and enjoyable. The screenplay and acting lift it far above that. Good film and very much recommended.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tonight's lesson: trying to make amends when you cannot, 25 Sep 2004
By 
Lawrance M. Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
Manual Jordan (Billy Bob Thornton) has been sitting in a prison cell for 23 years, where the only decoration is a newspaper photograph of the teenager he killed in a convenience store robbery. In voice over he tells us about a book written in the 11th century that argues there are five steps necessary to make amends: acknowledge what you did, feel remorse, make right what you did wrong, then make it right with God, and then you can be redeemed. But Jordan knows he cannot bring back Abner Easley and does not believe "in some God that's gonna open His arms to me even if I did." That takes care of steps three and four, and since we can never be in the same place twice, Jordan knows he will never be redeemed. So he has accepted his place in prison and is surprised when his sentence is commuted to time served and he is thrown back in the world. Even though he knows it is hopeless, Jordan wants to atone for his horrible crime.
"Levity" is about a man who wants to be forgiven although he will never be able to forgive himself. We want to feel compassion for Jordan, but we know that he is probably right and that he is never going to be able to attain redemption. But writer-director Ed Solomon, who has his own cross to bear as the co-writer of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" does not really return Jordan to the real world. Instead the ex-con finds himself in strange almost dreamlike world where answering a pay phone in the middle of the night gets you a job and a place to stay at a mission that operates across the street from a nightclub. The place is run by Miles Evans (Morgan Freeman), an eccentric preacher, who allows kids to park for free at his lot if they come in and sit for 15 minutes while he preaches at them. Jordan's job is to stand out in the cold and get the kids to sign in with their names and time of arrival.
Of all the faceless kids who wander through each night one stands out, young Sofia Mellinger (Kirsten Dunst). She seems like a drug loving party girl, but Jordan sees somebody who is trying pretty hard to kill herself. However, Sofia is not his primary concern. That would be trying to get Adele Easley (Holly Hunter) to let him help her take her bags home. She, of course, is the sister of the boy he killed, who knows has a son named Abner who is essentially the same age as his namesake was 23 years earlier. Jordan is persistent enough without being too pushy, and his formal way of speaking and strange manner catches Adele's interest, although she is quick to point out that her standards have slipped over the years. However, Jordan is not looking for romance and that is only way of the things that he cannot tell Adele.
Evans has a pretty good idea of what Jordan is up to, especially after Adele calls the mission looking for somebody whose name she does not know. While the preacher agrees with Jordan that redemption is impossible, he also supports the idea that trying is not the worst of all possible fates. Besides, if he cannot save himself there is the possibility that Jordan might be able to save young Abner or Sofia. Beyond that there is the question of what will happen when Adele finds out Jordan's true identity, because you know that moment is going to come at a pivotal point in the story.
The performances in "Levity" are the most compelling part of the film, which is hardly surprising given you have Thornton, Freeman and Hunter in the three key roles. Dunst is a bit outclassed but then her character is not written at the same level; her strong point is the way she can hold her own in verbal sparing with the juvenile delinquents who are sent to the mission to hear first Evans and then Jordan talk to them. Mostly this movie is a series of scenes between Jordan and the other three characters, as well as with young Abner (Geoffrey Wigdor). Thornton, who is always looking or different ways to play every one of his characters, is going for a level of subtlety here that is a shade short of complete inertia. Yet, for the most part, it works.
Most certainly there will be those who will find "Levity" to be too preachy and that the ending might be too contrived. But this is a film that has an appropriately subdued notion of what should constitute a happy ending under these tragic circumstances. Ultimately, its biggest problem could well be that the point is made early on in the film. Jordan has accepted his fate as being well deserved and despite the fact that he cannot change anything or find peace, he tries to do something anyway. By that standard how well he succeeds does not matter because that would not be the point of the lesson. If you understand that, then you may well find most of this 2003 drama to be superfluous.
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Levity [DVD] [2003]
Levity [DVD] [2003] by Ed Solomon (DVD - 2005)
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