Change Comes Involuntarily.
Rosenberg’s prison stay is exactly how it should go, an impenetrable fascism writhing against an unbiased force with of course a pinch of madness. This recipe has always worked, not for its procedure, but for the obvious tasty ingredients it is brimmed of. Yes, it overstays its welcome and feels a bit stretch over here and there, but there is a lot to look and ponder about. The meticulous gritty long sequences that it adapts to convey a messages out loud and clear is a double edge sword, since there is barely anything cinematic about it, it can be both unnerving and illuminating. The characters are stereotypical pawns as we usually see in such genre, a big bully, a corrupted cop and a rotten system run by bratty misleading leaders.
But all of it can be forgiven by easily, since our protagonist is equally glorifying and worth rooting for. The whole “one man can change” theory bodes well in this narration, which the makers being aware of, makes sure that the protagonist bubbles up as the ultimate dream hero there ever was and should be. Portraying such a powerful character lies Redford’s exceptional performance, where the annoyance and irritation of single minded people is expressed freely through him.
In fairness, the elements of the storytelling too helps him, a few incident where the right and wrong scale is imbalanced and shucked out of the window, to makes you clench your jaw. What makes this experience jarring- and mind you not poignant, which is usually the case- is the buoyancy of the screenplay, it keeps throwing enough reasons back to makes you punch your way out of this. On that very note, Rosenberg triumphs on mapping down that emotion for us to visit blatantly on screen, Brubaker is the leader we want but we cannot get.