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Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Badge (2002)

In a small Louisiana backwater parish, a young woman (Cyd Casados) is found shot to death in the woods. After the coroner confirms she was, in fact, transgender, the town's leading politicos suggest to the sheriff (Billy Bob Thornton) that he close the case immediately. But when the murder victim's wife (Patricia Arquette) arrives from New Orleans demanding an investigation, the layers are peeled away and a complicated structure of corruption rising to the top of the political totem pole is revealed. Made for cinemas (although GLAAD nominated it as best TV movie), when the production company went bankrupt and the film couldn't find a distributor, it debuted on cable (Starz) rather than cinemas. Perhaps it's just as well but considering its topic, I can't see it doing very well in cinemas at least in 2002, it's just not unique enough. That being said, the film doesn't whitewash Thornton's sheriff. He's not interested in solving the case (he refers to the victim as a "freak"). It's not justice or fair play that motivates him to solve the case, it's political ambition and a chance to get back at the men who are trying to sell him out. And while he never gets that "see the light" moment, he must acknowledge his own prejudice and move past it. When I call it a potboiler, it's not a put down. For what it is, it's not bad at all. Directed by Robby Henson. With Sela Ward, William Devane, Julie Hagerty, Jena Malone and Thomas Haden Church.

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