Cert 15 Stars 3

Racism, rednecks and repentance are the key ingredients in this earnest drama based on a true story from South Carolina in 1996.

Garrett Hedlund is unrecognisable from his biggest role in sci-fi action Tron: Legacy, and stars as violent bigot Mike Burden who falls for Judy, an impoverished single mother, who awakens in him a desire for a better life away from the Klan.

This is much to the disgust of his mentor at the local  Ku Klux Klan, who’s played with avuncular intimidation by Brit actor Tom Wilkinson.

Geordie actress Andrea Riseborough is a magnetic presence full of integrity and conviction as Judy, easily overshadowing her scowling, mumbling co-star.

One time Oscar winner Forest Whitaker brings dignified conviction to his impassioned and softly spoken role as Reverend David Kennedy who preaches peaceful protest as he attempts to save a sinner.

Although there’s no shying away from hatred and brutality, and scenes of assault are necessarily upsetting, as a drama Burden treads a well worn path, is a tad over-sentimental and doesn’t reach the Oscar-worthy levels of redemption it aims for.