Sunday, 3 June 2007
PIERREPOINT: THE LAST HANGMAN
NEW YORK----film review
'Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman'
If you're going to make the case against capital punishment, an
executioner's life story usually isn't the first recourse. But the true
story of Albert Pierrepoint, who hanged between 400 and 600 people in
England between 1934 and 1955, proves as effective an argument against the
death penalty as any attorney's plea.
Timothy Spall, best known as the rodentlike Pettigrew in the Harry Potter
movies, plays Pierrepoint with a persuasive blend of owlish rectitude and
At first, he takes on this onerous job, which secretly augments the money
he earns delivering groceries, as if it were a public service. He's even
proud of the efficiency with which he carries out his death sentences, and
eventually earns enough respect from the British government to get the
plum assignment of doing away with Nazi war criminals.
As such, he unwittingly and unwillingly becomes a hero, but his notoriety
soon becomes a burden he cannot endure. The movie hits its message a
little too emphatically, and its narrative unwinds a little too
schematically. But Spall's performance, along with that of Juliet
Stevenson as his devoted and sometimes credulous spouse, keeps things
PIERREPOINT: THE LAST HANGMAN. Unrated. Directed by Adrian Shergold from a
script by Jeff Pope. 1:30 (violent images, nudity, vulgarities). At the
IFC Center, Manhattan.