SLING BLADE (1996)
A film by Billy Bob Thornton
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, J.T. Walsh
It begins with this monologue of a man Karl Childers ( Billy Bob Thornton) he is retarded, he has been in a state facility since childhood, he has killed his mother and her lover. He says, “I reckon I got no reason to kill no one. Uh, huh.” Karl is talking to a reporter since he got release from the institution. They think he is cured. He is not a killer, he will nor kill without proper reason. As a child he misinterpreted the situation. He is retarded, he is a complex man and has done a lot of thinking when he was in the facility.
I remember they film when it came out and Billy was on the tonight show with Leno he said to him the character came to me when I was shaving in the morning and he was started to talk in character in Karl voice. What is going on at this man house so he decided to write and develop the character. Karl is a man of limited intelligence but great seriousness, who reasons as well as he can, and feels deeply. His voice is so deep that it became the most memorable character you will see on screen. As he gets out of the institution, he gets a jobs as a mechanic and meet this boy Frank (Lucas Black), but quickly senses that the boy has a burden, he also meets the boy’s mother Linda (Natalie Canerday) she is kind and has a heard of gold. Later he meets Doyle (Dwight Yoakam) who is a plain drinking beer asshole. Karl goes on to meet Linda’s best friend Vaughan (John Ritter) who is gay and seems apologetic about it but he is fine about being a gay man. Karl sees what is going on here and feel for the boy and the mother because Doyle makes life barely bearable for both of them. John Ritter who past away is a joy to see with a terrific performance who is sensitive as well as complex. Let’s not forget the performance of Billy her who is totally believable and you would want to cross his path if he was pissed at you. It is a difficult character to play and here at the time Billy want a young film maker trying to find a place in Hollywood and he surly succeed with this one. If I remember it well he won for best screenplay at the Oscar.