published: 23 September 2019
Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact, 12 Years A Slave, Captain America: Civil War) gives a career defining turn in Clemency, Chinonye Chukwu’s beautifully understated drama about a death row warden who begins to question her profession after witnessing a botched execution.
Inspired by the story of high profile death row inmate Troy Davis who was executed at a Us State prison in 2011, the film does a fantastic job in realistically replicating the process of state sanctioned Capital Punishment from the standpoint of the people carrying it out, and the effects this chore can have on their mental wellbeing.
Years of carrying out death row executions are starting to take a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard). Although confident that she has carried out her job to the best of her ability for years, Bernadine’s whole existence starts to unravel when a routine execution goes horribly wrong, resulting in the prisoner suffering a painful and undignified death in front of horrified witnesses and prison staff.
With her marriage to long suffering teacher Jonathan (The Wire‘s Wendell Pierce) in the midst of a “make or break” crisis, Bernadine has to face the possibility of leaving a profession she loves to get away from yet another senseless death.