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Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman (R)





Release Date: June 8th, 2007 (IFC Center) by IFC Films.
The Cast: Timothy Spall, Juliet Stevenson, Eddie Marsan, Cavan Clerkin, Christopher Fulford, Ian Shaw, Maggie Ollerenshaw, Claire Keelan.
Directed by Adrian Shergold.

BASIC PREMISE: When Albert Pierrepoint (Spall), a hangman, becomes a famous executioner during the Nuremberg trials, his opposition to capital punishment threatens his job. Based on a true story.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Strong performance by Timothy Spall as the Pierrepoint could have been more absorbing with more attention to character development, but the strong performances by Timothy Spall as the title character and Juliet Stevenson as his wife, Annie, help to elevate the film and to keep you engaged. In 1934, Pierrepoint becomes a hangman without telling his wife, who thinks he just works as a grocery deliveryman. Itís fascinating how he meticulously measures the rope and ties it to minimize the pain of those being executed, although, eventually, these scenes feel a bit tedious. Everything changes during the Nuremberg trials and when the media exposes his secret life as a hangman to the public, causing him to develop a conscience and to oppose capital punishment. The scene when he confronts his wife feels most riveting to watch, especially how she reacts to him. Screenwriter Jeff Pope includes plenty of drama, but fails to develop the character of Pierrepoint enough so that you truly care about him and his actions. It would have been helpful to include more scenes showing him reacting to his difficult job. Nonetheless, Timothy Spall gives a very convincing performance and masters a wide range of emotions which allows the transformation of his character to feel both organic and compelling.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Occasionally tedious and not enough insight into the titular character.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 5

IN A NUTSHELL: Strong performances and a compelling, dramatic plot somewhat compensate for lack of insight and occasional tediousness.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD


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