“Sling Blade” is a compelling , soft hearted, 1996 American Drama that won an Academy Award for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay. This isn’t retro week, and I know I normally do more “recent” reviews, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to share a review on this awesome film!
The story: Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) is a mentally handicap adult who at the young age of 12, killed two people, one of whom was his own mother. Believing that his mother and her lover were doing wrong, he killed them using a kaiser blade. “Some folks call it a sling blade. I call it a kaiser blade.” – Karl. Not long after his release from the mental hospital, Karl meets a young boy by the name of Frank Wheatley (Lucas Black), who almost immediately takes an interest/liking to Karl. The two become friends and before long, Frank’s mother (Linda) invites Karl to stay with them, in their garage. Karl soon becomes acquainted with Doyle, Linda’s boyfriend who doesn’t treat her or Frank very well. Put to the ultimate test, Karl is faced with living with this kind family who has to put up with constant abuse from the “son of a bitch” Doyle.
Evaluation: Taking place in a small, rural town, this film gracefully captures the country-suburban setting. Karl Childers may not really fit in much of anywhere, but the setting couldn’t have been better for us to get to know him, because it fit him. If anything was working against the setting, it was the god awful music that played in some scenes. But since I won’t be rating the music portion (since it didn’t play a huge part in the feel of the film anyway) then I won’t speak to it any further. I will however promote my highest praises to the cast who made this movie golden. Billy Bob Thornton and Lucas Black took a high quality canvas and turned it into a wonderful work of art! This movie required a specified amount of emotion, human interaction, and backstory all put together with a small serving of humor, and the cast ensured that the film encased it all.
The relationship between Karl and Frank is a bond like no other. Karl had nowhere to go in the beginning and knew no one in the outside world who could help him. Making a friend, even as young as Frank, meant the world to him. I think that my favorite scene was toward the end when Karl gives Frank the only things he truly owns in the world, his books. Karl informs Frank that he made him a book mark and put it inside one the books that Frank had been looking at earlier. When Frank pulls out the book mark to look at it, he see’s a message that Karl left on it saying “You will be happy”. For a man who doesn’t show much emotion, this point of the film is the emotional peak, when we come to see just how much Frank means to him. It’s a very powerful moment.
Total Abstract Rating: 95% If I am correct, this is my second highest rated film so far, and it certainly deserves to be.
Thanks for reading.