Oprah Winfrey has said Beloved is her Schindler's List. Indeed, she struggled for eight years to bring the elliptical Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the big screen. To his credit, Jonathan Demme has remained faithful to Morrison's harrowing but genius novel, but perhaps because of his literal adaptation, the film is not nearly as powerful as the book. Set just after the Civil War and told partially in flashbacks, the film tells the story of Sethe (Winfrey), a former slave who endured unspeakable horrors while working on a Kentucky plantation called Sweet Home. She has managed to piece together her life and lives with her daughter, Denver (Elise), in Ohio. Though she's a free woman, she's still held captive by her past. The strained relationship between mother and daughter is further tested when Sethe welcomes into their home an old friend, Paul D (Glover), and the two become lovers. Just as Denver begins to accept Paul D, a young woman who grunts, groans and drools appears and becomes part of the household. The girl, called Beloved (Newton), is the ghost of Sethe's dead daughter and has come to seek revenge. Newton gives an outstanding, haunting performance likely to be remembered at Oscar time.
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