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Dead Man Walking (1995)

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Traces the relationship between a death-row inmate and a local nun to whom he turns for spiritual guidance.

This acclaimed film traces the relationship between a death-row inmate and the local nun to whom he turns for spiritual guidance in the days leading up to his scheduled execution. Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) has been convicted of the rape and murder of two young lovers and is awaiting execution. Susan Sarandon plays Sister Helen Prejean, a nun who has devoted herself to God and to helping the less fortunate. Prejean faces a moral crisis as she tries to reconcile her anti-death penalty views with the truth of Poncelet’s actions and the pain felt by the victim’s families.

This fascinating and powerful drama explores the relationship between a condemned young convict and the nun who counsels him in the days leading up to his execution. Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) is on death row after being convicted of raping and brutally murdering a young couple. He writes to Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) for help, asking her to visit him in prison. She agrees to act as his spiritual adviser and begins to spend time each day with him. Prejean, who strongly opposes capital punishment, attempts to get Poncelet's death sentence rescinded. First, however, she tries to save Poncelet's soul by getting him to face up to his guilt and ask forgiveness for his actions.

Based on the real-life experiences of Sister Helen Prejean, the film shows the horrors of state-sanctioned executions while also dealing sympathetically with the grief felt by the families of the two murder victims. Sarandon and Penn turn in top-notch performances in this award-winning film written, directed, and produced by Tim Robbins

Tags: drama, crime

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