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Burden - Film Review

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Published June 6th 2020
Re-examining long-held beliefs & healing a wounded community
burden film review 2020, community event, fun things to do, cinema, performing arts, actors, film review, movie night, entertainment, andrew heckler, andrea riseborough, garrett hedlund, forest whitaker, south carolina, kkk, the ku klux klan, tom wilkinson, tess harper, crystal fox, true story
Images © Bill Kenwright Films, The Fyz Facility, Underburdened Ent.

Burden is based on a true story and comes from the producers of Dallas Buyers Club. This dramatic true story of compassion and grace in the American South stars Garrett Hedlund, Forest Whitaker, Tom Wilkinson, Andrea Riseborough,Tess Harper, Crystal Fox, and Usher, and was written and directed by Andrew Heckler.

It'll be available to rent via Foxtel Store 4 June to 4 July 2020



The idealistic Reverend Kennedy (Academy Award®-winner Forest Whitaker) does everything in his power to keep the peace in South Carolina 1996. When a museum celebrating the Ku Kux Klan opens in town, he works doubly hard at preaching love conquers all. Enter Mike Burden (Garret Hedlund), one of the most loyal KKK lieutenants to whom its leader Tom Griffin (Tom Wilkinson) is father and family. Orphaned, poor and uneducated, he's the perfect KKK recruit, easily manipulated by the KKK leader and fed its beliefs all his life. Falling in love with a strong single-mother has him re-examining his long-held beliefs till finally, he chooses to get out of the KKK and his violent past to build a brighter future and a family.


This doesn't sit well with the Klan leader who uses his influence to rain misfortune upon Burden and his woman (Andrea Riseborough). Out of jobs, no money, no home, no food, they're living in the car when Reverend Kennedy crosses paths with them. He takes them into his home, trusting in the Lord to show him a sign in a chance to save a lost soul and heal his wounded community. Griffin is determined to lure Burden back into the fold or see him punished for his betrayal; a collision course in the making with Griffin for both Burden and Kennedy.


The set of circumstances in the film are shockingly real. However, the film keeps it real by not playing the good guy bad guy hat, but delves into understanding that bigotry is a learned cycle of behaviour. It depicts Burden's journey from hate to love; a product of his environment whose lack of education and affection had shaped his vengeful worldview. Hedlund as Burden is perfect for the role he plays and inhabits the persona of the character with aplomb. He manages well the nuances of being uneducated yet able to love deeply; being vicious and violent yet capable of softness and honesty, working towards redemption. Hedlund meets the challenges of all aspects of his character realistically and shines.


Forest Whitaker is a towering talent, but in the role of Reverend Kennedy he really comes in at second place as the story is really about Burden with Hedund getting to display the choicest complex emotions. Tom Wilkinson as KKK leader and Andrea Riseborough as the love interest alongside Whitaker are all strong in their roles and do not disappoint in their layered characters. Riseborough is a chameleon at jumping into a lot of tricky characters and goes head to head with Crystal Fox (the Reverend's wife) as strong female characters in the film.

Let's not forget musician Usher Raymond in the key role of Clarence Brooks, a parishioner at the Reverend's church and a childhood friend of Burden. He brings his fair share to the table portraying a character that's sensitive, understanding, accepting and has a heart of gold. A timely and engaging film with all that's going on in the world right now; at its heart, a message of hope and that no matter where you are, love and acceptance are hate's most powerful adversaries.

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Why? Burden - Film Review 2020
Where: Australia
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