“Freedomland” is a detective film that addresses racial inequality. Had Natalee Holloway been black, would the search for her have lasted as long, and been as extensive? Based on the best-selling novel by Richard Price, this film about a missing child would assume that answer to be no.
In two neighborhoods of New Jersey, a large division lies between the predominantly black projects in Dempsy and the blue-collar white town of Gannon. Detective Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson) gets assigned a case concerning Brenda (Julianne Moore), a daycare employee in the projects who stumbles into the emergency room late one night, dazed and in shock. Bloody-handed and confused, Brenda opens up to Lorenzo only to reveal that she believes a black man carjacked and forced her out of the car while she was stopped in an isolated area near the projects.
Only after hours of questioning does Brenda break down and the real horror begins: in the backseat of her stolen car lay her 4-year-old son, Cody, asleep. What may seem obvious at first is as far from the truth as possible. Lorenzo is torn between the loyalty to his community in the projects where he is a prominent figure, and the task he must perform to help protect and aid a white woman from Gannon.
Led by activist Karen Collucci (Edie Falco), the search for Cody begins. The fire starts to ignite when the tenants of the projects begin to rebel against the lock-in that the police have instated in order to find the carjacker, and the truth that everyone thought from the beginning emerges: if the missing child was black it would be a completely different and less severe situation.
Samuel L. Jackson does a stunning job of captivating audiences with his ability to fill the frame with passion, as well as sympathy and sincerity all at the same time. His portrayal of Lorenzo makes the audience believe in faith in humanity and really forces an emotional reaction out of the viewer. The film further proves Julianne Moore’s acting abilities as well. This was by far the most dramatic and demanding role I have ever seen her play. The emotion she is able to exude through her physical self, as well as her character’s emotions, is what affected movie viewers the most during the film. One cannot help but feel sympathy for this woman who is disheveled and obviously in a massive amount of pain and suffering.
Expect some major twists in the film that promise to keep movie watchers guessing and on the edge of their seats until the end. However, as good of a mystery as the movie is, it is also a little hard to take in. By the end of the movie, you might be left wondering the meaning of the characters’ messages, especially when they are all being sent through Lorenzo. Regardless, this deep and passionate mystery is fascinating and shocking and is definitely worth a viewing. As Samuel L Jackson’s character Lorenzo puts it, “The more we try to know, the more mysterious life gets.”