Freedomland (Joe Roth). 110 minutes. Opens Friday (February 17). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NNNN
Based on Richard Price 's novel, Freedomland stars Samuel L. Jackson as a veteran Jersey cop trying to find out what happened to Julianne Moore 's kid after she walks into a hospital bleeding and blaming that all-purpose urban villain, Some Black Guy, for jacking her car.
You can see that director Joe Roth wants to follow Price's tale of race relations in America. But an actor can tip the balance in a picture, and and this may be the most tortured role of Julianne Moore's career. Her grief isn't epic or operatic -- it's thermonuclear, and levels everything before it. After her big scene, Freedomland goes on for another 20 minutes or so, but it doesn't really matter.
Roth is nobody's idea of a great director, but he knows how to use a strong cast and, in addition to his stars, he gets terrific work from Edie Falco , LaTanya Richardson (Mrs. Jackson) and Ron Eldard as Moore's hotheaded cop brother. With these performances, you wonder why Sony didn't open it for Oscar season.