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This review is from: Sleepers [VHS] (VHS Tape)
With a gripping story, augmented by the moral and ethical dilemmas of a lawyer, a journalist, and a priest, Barry Levinson's SLEEPERS is heart-pounding drama at its finest. Set in New York's Hell's Kitchen--with all of its subsequent turbulence and socioeconomic dysfunction--this film tells the story of four boys, four lifelong pals, who are sadistically brutalized in a reform school and carry the scars into their adult lives.
It comes as no surprise that two of the four embark on a problematic life of crime; it comes as even less of a surprise that when a former reform school guard is seen eating in a diner the two men extract a brutal and bloody revenge.
At this point SLEEPERS embarks on a breathless course of twists and turns, with one underlying, consistent theme: the unbroken bond of friendship. With their friends on trial for murder, the other two men, a prosecuting attorney (Brad Pitt) and a journalist (Jason Patric) put their careers and reputations on the line to exonerate the defendants--who are indeed guilty of murder--and to malign the former guard who was killed. The stage is set for courtroom drama that is literally spellbinding.
Kevin Bacon, Jason Patric, Brad Pitt, and Minnie Driver are exceptional in this film, but the cast is trumped by two "oldtimers," Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro. Hoffman plays an alcoholic defense attorney in over his head for the trial, while De Niro--as a loving priest who has been a father figure to all four of the boys--faces a titanic decision as he is called to testify as an important witness. The acting is compelling and absorbing, and so is the story. SLEEPERS is about as good as a drama can get.