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Sing Sing Featured, Reviews Film Threat

Mar 11, 2024

SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2024 REVIEW! In Greg Kwedar’s feature film, Sing Sing, the inmates literally take over in a touching story of redemption and hope within the prison system. Loosely based on actual events, Colman Domingo plays John “Divine G” Whitfield, a falsely convicted murderer serving a very long sentence in Sing Sing Prison along the Hudson River. John and several other inmates participate in the Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA) program, which John co-founded. The program gives an outlet for its participants to act, write, and produce plays. Helping them is their acting coach and director Brent Buell (Paul Raci).
After a successful performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the actors gather to discuss their next production. Newcomer to the group, Clarence Maclin, urges the group to do a comedy. As ideas are thrown out about what kind of comedy to perform (western, time travel, horror, etc.), Buell decides to write a comedy that incorporates all their ideas as one giant mash-up. Being more classically trained in the outside world, John is not exactly thrilled with the choice but goes along with it.
Much of the film centers on the initially cold relationship between John and Clarence. Being new to the group, Clarence thinks the acting exercises are stupid and has difficulty taking notes and opening up to the other actors. Of course, by the end, the wall between the two slowly breaks down into a lifelong bond.
Sing Sing is an inspiring and hopeful story. That’s really all the reason you need to see this movie. It’s a reminder that the incarcerated are capable of finding redemption and starting fresh again if given the chance and if programs like RTA are available in the prison system. It doesn’t have to be theater…it could be art or sports. In fact, RTA boasts a 3% recidivism rate.
“The program gives an outlet for [the incarcerated] to act, write, and produce plays.”
If you need a second reason to see Sing Sing, it’s the performances, and I’m not just talking about Colman Domingo. They’re not dramatic. They are authentic. With a few exceptions, the cast comprises alumni of RTA in Sing Sing. They may not be Royal Shakespearean theatre or Juilliard-type actors, but they are men who spent years solely dedicated to their craft. Sometimes training can suck the authenticity from your soul. Not here. Their life experience is integral to these performances.
What is unique about Sing Sing is the story…more how the story developed. Yes, there is a credited writer in Clint Bentley, but it appears that he was there to create a cinematic structure while cobbling together the real-life stories of the actors. With further guidance from the real-life Brent Buell, each actor has their personal story to tell about how they got to Sing Sing and how they used this program to help them cross the finish line to freedom. If not told by real-life actors, some might accuse the film of being cliche, but instead, it’s all real and authentic.
Gotta talk about Colman Domingo, who plays Divine G. He serves as the acting foundation for the film and the other actors. Divine G is in prison for two second-degree murder convictions, and evidence surfaces that exonerates him. Unfortunately, the clemency board refuses to consider this evidence during his hearing; Divine G must continue to live as an innocent man behind bards while seeing his fellow inmates…his friends…and leave Sing Sing by parole or death. Domingo portrays the emotional center of the lifer.
You need to see Sing Sing for what it represents. It’s never too late to turn your life around. No matter where you are in life, you can be a positive impact on the world around you…no matter how small it is. Lastly, never give up on hope.
Sing Sing screened at the 2024 SXSW Film Festival.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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