“Sling Blade” is Surprisingly Sentimental

Slicing into the heart of the American Gothic with razor-sharp perception, writer/director/actor Billy Bob Thornton carves out a startling yarn with the genre-slashing masterpiece Sling Blade (A). Thornton crafts a singular portrait of the South and of a man faced with a moral dilemma that may cause him to resort to violence. Alternately sweet in sequences with child actor Lucas Black and menacing when facing an alcoholic character played by Dwight Yoakam, the film sustains a delicate tone and a spellbinding sense of time and place as it builds to its finale.