Distributed By: Lionsgate Films
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Ever since listening to the score by Mark Kilian and researching the storyline, I have wanted to see Repentance. starring Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie, Sanaa Lathan and Mike Epps. It took a while, but I finally had the opportunity. Would it be as good as the premise suggests?
Repentance stars Anthony Mackie as Tommy Carter, a therapist and spiritual advisor who has just completed his first book. Tommy wasn't always a role model - a car accident four years ago changed his life and put him on a path that would eventually help a great many people. He is approached at a book signing by Angel Sanchez (Forest Whitaker), a man distraught over his mother's death who asks Tommy to conduct one on one sessions with him. No longer a practicing therapist, Tommy declines, but accepts Angel's card anyway.
Shortly afterwards, Tommy and his wife (Sanaa Lathan) are surprised by Ben (Mike Epps), Tommy's wayward brother. It would seem that Ben just got out of prison, but is in trouble yet again, owing a twelve thousand dollar debt to someone. In an effort to make some cash to help his brother, Tommy signs on for more book signings and decides to call Angel regarding his need for therapy.
But as the sessions begin, Tommy discovers that Angel isn't just unable to let go of the mother who was taken from him before her time. There is a dark side of Angel that needs some sort of redemption. Worried that Angel needs more than Tommy is willing or able to give him, Tommy ends the sessions, but Angel isn't done yet. What happens next will make you wonder who it is that is hiding secrets, Angel or Tommy, and who is in most need of redemption.
Man, we all know that Karma can be a bitch, but Repentance drives that message home like a stake in the leg...er, heart...yeah, let me not give too much away and just discuss my feelings about the film. Forest Whitaker is an incredible, often underrated actor and his portrayal of Angel as a troubled soul with a dangerous dark side is nothing short of amazing. I totally believed in his obsessive need to find out what happened to his mother and make someone pay for it. Anthony Mackie starts off well, but after a while fizzles out in his portrayal of Tommy Carter. Whereas I believed in his sense of spirituality balanced with issues from the past, by the middle of the film, I was confused by his change in performing direction. Without giving too much away, I couldn't understand the sniveling, whimpering thing his character has become all too early in the film. Sanaa Lathan and Mike Epps aren't even worth mentioning as there is barely any performance from either actor. In fact, some of the best work comes from a little girl - Ariana Neal, who plays Angel's daughter, Francesca - and Nicole Ari Parker who plays Angel's wife and is barely in the picture.
The storyline is terrific and, in the beginning, you find yourself wondering whether Angel is as crazy as he seems or if he is really haunted by his mother's ghost. Flashbacks to happier times aid in this confusion and you really aren't quite sure what to believe until the end. And that brings me to the issue at hand. The end, and points leading to it, are entirely too rushed. To drag things out the way they were in the beginning and then zoom full throttle to the big reveal was just downright infuriating. And, as I understand it, I'm not alone in this feeling - read the numerous reviews out there. We all felt cheated at the end. Such a terrific cast and an interesting plot deserved much better play than it actually received thanks to a rushed ending that was ambiguous at best, hastily contrived at worst and a lack of opportunity for some of the big names in that cast. There was so much opportunity for greatness in this storyline, but it never came to fruition
Thus, anyone watching Repentance to the very end is going to want to know the Karma that will befall the movie's creators after the viewer wastes ninety minutes on a film that ends as a dud. If you plan on watching the film at all, find a site that will offer it for free, this way you will only have spent time and not hard earned cash on a film you will find yourself cursing at the end.