Gorgeous black and white cinematography particularly in the opening shots. The music soars. I do wish McDonald had dug just bit more below the surface as I never really felt I got to know any of these people, not even Rita Chiarelli or her motivation for being there or doing this. One reviewer at the time wrote "It finally feels too cautious"...I have to agree.
Quite full of heartache and misery, both in music and story... but through this music we do get to see the light of redemption. Pretty much shows you what the power of music can foster. Sad, yet hopeful. I like that although the movie focuses on the criminals and their long walk through remorse through the guidance of music, the victims are not forgotten.
Pretty good doc. Most of the music is great. Chiarelli sounds a bit too much like Janis Joplin, but the prisoners bring a lot of energy and authenticity. Looking at their faces as they talk and sing is an education in itself. Apparently, second degree murder is punished with a life sentence in Louisiana. And in Louisiana... "life is life."
It starts so promising with great b&w photography and camera, also with an interesting staging of rehearsal situation and dialogues. But the second half gets more and more unbearable: like a bad sermon on Bible TV - and also using the same means like static camera and underscoring with cheap piano and synthesized string sounds.