Sling Blade

Tucson Weekly

DIRECTED BY: Billy Bob Thornton

REVIEWED: 02-27-97

A movie that's both grim and oddly feel-good, this low-key, independent production has a terrific script and an even better cast. Billy Bob Thorton plays Karl, a man who, as a child, murdered two people with a big knife; 17 years later he's "well," according to the state institution where he's been warehoused, and is summarily ejected into the big, wide world. He meets up with kind strangers, including a little boy (Lucas Black), who adopts him like a lost puppy and takes him home to live in his mother's garage. The mother's boyfriend (Dwight Yoakam) is a prick, though, and soon Karl finds himself in the middle of a domestic drama that seems to remind him of his own twisted childhood. Sharp, understated performances from J.T. Walsh (who's really terrifying as a sex offender), John Ritter, and Robert Duvall round out the movie, but it's really Thorton's performance as the practical, slow-witted, vaguely monstrous Karl that helps make this one of the best movies of 1996.

--Stacey Richter

Sling Blade

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