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How do you salvage your marriage when you are struggling to salvage your soul, your sense of self, and your sense of right and wrong? Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) is a prison warden who, over the years, has been drifting away from her husband while dutifully carrying out executions in a maximum security prison. When she strikes up a unique bond with death-row inmate Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge), a layer of emotional skin is peeled back, forcing Bernadine to confront the complex—and often contradictory—relationship between good intentions, unrequited desires, and what it means to be sanctioned to kill. Clemency is an absorbing and penetrating character study that pulls into deep focus the various ways in which people facing impossible ethical circumstances strive to achieve some state of grace. Director Chinonye Chukwu crafts a dense, emotional film through masterful restraint and precision, drawing forth radiant performances that illuminate the internal grapplings of people searching for redemption and self-recognition. A rare, sensitive, and deeply observant prison drama, Clemency offers a fresh and meaningful contribution to the genre.


  • Alfre Woodard
  • Richard Schiff
  • Aldis Hodge
  • Wendell Pierce
  • Danielle Brooks
  • Michael O'Neill
  • Richard Gunn
  • LaMonica Garrett
  • Vernee Watson
  • Dennis Haskins

Atom User Reviews

3.8 out of 5
Verified Review

This movie should have only been 30 minutes long and it could have been shown on TV during prime time. I was very disappointed.

Lucy W


Dec 27, 2019

This is screen acting of a very rare sort, and Clemency is a vital emotional powerhouse sorely deserving of being seen.

Metacritic review by Matt Fagerholm
Matt Fagerholm
Dec 27, 2019

If you want to see what great acting is, watch Alfre Woodard deliver a master class in Clemency.

Metacritic review by Peter Travers
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
Dec 17, 2019

Chinonye Chukwu’s film is a morality play with a true sense of contradiction and melancholia.

Metacritic review by Chuck Bowen
Chuck Bowen
Slant Magazine