Worthy `Amazing Grace' slips into self-righteousness

review b-

February 23, 2007|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

Amazing Grace, a worshipful film biography of British abolitionist William Wilberforce, uses his quest to outlaw slavery to attack the complacency that allows the practice to persist today as child prostitution or forced labor. But the movie is so reverent that it registers as little more than a pageant of outrage and uplift. Another hymn or two and it might turn into a musical along the lines of Les Miserables.

In the course of the film's plush, well-paced two hours, the English anti-slavery movement ebbs when international tensions in general and the French Revolution in particular engender paranoia about any kind of protest. Yet the analogy to our own sacrifice of civic ideals to the "war on terror" gets lost in the film's veneration of its hero.

Amazing Grace (Samuel Goldwyn Pictures) Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Romola Garai, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Youssou N'Dour. Directed by Michael Apted. Rated PG. Time 117 minutes.

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