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If there is any justice in the awards world (and, let's be frank, there very rarely is, unfortunately), Alfre Woodard's singularly searing, slow burn performance in Chinonye Chukwu's similarly intense drama will give her the "long-overdue, highly respected veteran" momentum and buzz that Glenn Close enjoyed last year for The Wife. Beyond the situational similarities in the bigger film world picture, the two performances themselves are actually quite similar in their remarkably vivid, often wordless control. As a death row prison warden whose stern facade belies an ever-churning crisis of conscience in the days leading up to the latest inmate up for execution, Woodard draws power from vividly filling in the spaces between the lines of Chukwu's script. Words may say one thing, but Woodard's face and eyes tell volumes more, culminating in a long, close-up take not dissimilar to Close's celebrated moment in her film but even more restrained yet equally as gut-wrenching and devastating. The latter two descriptors also apply to Woodard's castmates, most especially Aldis Hodge as the inmate in question and, in one phenomenal scene that's a clinic in dramatic two-hander acting, Danielle Brooks as a former girlfriend of his. But the piercing precision and calibrated control of the cast is also a measure to Chukwu's comparable gifts as a filmmaker. There's no questioning this is a "message" film at its core, but Chukwu knows that the most effective manner of delivering that message is through the connection forged by the humanity of her characters, and that is why it and the film resonate so strongly even after it's over.