The Graceful Ms. Moore Surprisingly Annoys in the Thrill-less 'Freedomland'

Based on a true story (a fucking ridiculous one), “Freedomland” chronicles the search for a mother’s missing son amidst surmounting racial tensions within an urban community. In the town of Armstrong, people fight and bicker over the slightest scruple, making it a rather unpleasant place to raise a family. When a white woman accuses a black man of stealing her child, racial tensions surface.

Armstrong is just another black community trying to survive, practically bubbling over in spite of itself. Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson) walks the streets with his head held high and his badge tucked beneath his clothing; he wants to be seen as another friend on the block, not a cop. Enter Brenda Martin (Julianne Moore), a white woman with a shrill voice who spouts proclamations of a black man kidnapping her son. The report of this abduction quickly spreads to the media, igniting a whirlwind of allegations and blame in the community.

As Lorenzo questions Brenda’s story, it becomes increasingly obvious that she may not be telling the truth, but she won’t budge anyway. A missing persons group, led by Karen Collucci (Edie Falco), becomes interested in helping Brenda find her child, but as the truth is revealed — culminating in a jarringly unbelievable ending — the community of Armstrong may be the real victim in this case.

First off, what happened to Julianne Moore? This classy lady has hit a downward spiral of duds; from the greatest of heights of her one-two Oscar punch with “Far From Heaven” and “The Hours,” she has plunged into mediocrity — and hasn’t come up for air since. It is a real shame too, seeing as she created one of the best characters of the 1990s, Amber Waves in “Boogie Nights.” Here she is, though, flailing her arms about in typical Jodie Foster fashion — see “Nell” and you’ll understand her inspiration for Brenda Martin. Moore used to be the actress that could save a picture, and now in “Freedomland,” she is buried with it.

Jackson doesn’t come out untarnished either: he uses that same tireless cool he brings to each role, but his performances have become almost tiresome with their increasing lack of originality. A black neighborhood cop caught between the community and a white woman’s accusation seems like it would inspire a complex turn for an actor like Jackson, but sadly he rarely digs deep. When he does, his desperate moves are as ludicrous as Moore’s. However, mustering just enough of a stone-faced look to seem like good acting, “Sopranos” star Edie Falco is the only one of the big names here that leaves the film unharmed, as her scenes are the most poignant and captivating.

Sad to say, the acting isn’t the main detriment of “Freedomland.” Richard’s Price’s script, adapted from his own novel, is quite muddled. Price stuffs the film with too many societal woes, so that one is eager just to be rid of all of its dystopic leanings. In addition, the plot is blanketed with holes and tripe — and the ridiculous bombshell of an ending makes everything you’ve watched up to that point seem like a blessing in comparison.

If you were expecting Ms. Moore to have learned a lesson with the whole lost child syndrome in “The Forgotten,” then you should pack your bags — and as the saying goes — get out of “Freedomland” while you have both limbs attached and brain intact.