A Different Kind of Champion
After befriending Englandís most notorious child murderess, a courageous British Lord faces ridicule and loss of his good name in Longford. Playing the lead characters in this thought-provoking exploration of forgiveness and redemption, Jim Broadbent and Samantha Morton deliver riveting performances, each one worthy of award consideration.
Based on true events, Longford centers on Lord Longfordís (Broadbent) efforts to rehabilitate Myra Hindley (Morton), one of the most hated inmates in the British prison system. Myra claims she was under the spell of her boyfriend (Andy Serkis) when the heinous crimes were committed, so Lord Longford believes she deserves consideration for parole. He begins corresponding with her, visiting her and sharing his Catholic religious philosophy with her. While watching these intense interactions, itís not easy to tell whether or not Myra is taking advantage of the dedicated elderly gentleman or really wants to change, as she claims.
Morton (In America) does a terrific job keeping us guessing. In fact, I found myself in the same position as Lord Longford -- desperately wanting the woman she portrayed to become a ďgood personĒ -- and I felt immense disappointment when she seems to turn Longfordís charity against him. Regarding Broadbent (Iris), anyone who watches the DVD bonus featurette -- For the Record: Firsthand Acounts of the Moors Murders -- which details the true story that inspired the film and includes footage of the real Longford will surely be amazed at the way this marvelous actor simply transforms himself into the title character here.
Sensitively directed by Tom Hooper (Elizabeth I) from Peter Morganís (The Queen) involving script, Longford combines the realism of a documentary and the emotion of a well-paced drama. It isnít a feel-good movie, of course, but itís definitely one discerning viewers should not miss. (Capsule review)
(Released by HBO Films; not rated by MPAA. Besides the short featurette mentioned above, the Longford DVD also includes enlightening audio commentary by Tom Hooper and Peter Morgan.)