Rob Reviews "Burden"
To know that writer/director Andrew Heckler’s “Burden” has been sitting on a shelf for over two years if baffling to me. Whether it was about timing or just simply finding the right place for distribution, this should have been given to the public a long time ago.
Based on the true story of Mike Burden (Garrett Hedlund), this is the true story of a small town in 1996 South Carolina, where local chapter head of the Ku Klux Klan Tom Griffin (Tom Wilkinson) puts together a plan to open a museum of Klan history in their abandoned theater. Griffin has a solid core of “soldiers” that seems to be perpetuating itself into a new generation, much to the chagrin of others in the community including local pastor Reverend Kennedy (Forest Whitaker) and his congregation. While working for a local repo company, Burden meets Judy (Andrea Riseborough), a single mother who helps Mike see through the lies and hate of the Klan in order to help turn his life around. Unfortunately, leaving the Klan is not as simple as a two-week notice on any level, and they learn about the ramifications quickly and swiftly.
This story is nothing short of powerful and in-your-face. Being covered by ABC News (with footage being shown as the credits start to roll), the dual-purpose title of “Burden” is shown honestly and pulls no punches in its depiction of the violence and tension that existed in this small town. The performances by the entire cast are spot-on, even instilling the entire gambit of emotions to me as the story unfolded. I am glad that I didn’t know much about it before I went into the screening so I could experience everything right there along with those who went through it on the screen each and every frame.
However, the problem for me with this film lies in its pacing. At almost a solid two hours, it uses every minute to tell its story, but whether intentional or not, this is REALLY slow. I am not sure that I could sit through it again in a theater, but that does not take away from how good this film is. I get the feeling that “Burden” may not get the size of release that it deserves to get its message out to as wide of an audience as possible, but I would implore the filmmakers to make a version of this film that can be shown to schools, churches, and anywhere where families can watch it together (most of it’s “R” rating comes from language, but there is some rough imaging and a few scenes of violence, with some of it implied). The discussion that should come from it alone is more than worth it in that aspect.