The film powerfully confronts the heart-wrenching paradox of empathizing with both the criminal and the victim. Even though it is seen through the eyes of Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) it is still something not just relegated to the realm of clergy. The question I was disturbed by as watched this was “What does justice look like?” The complexity and beauty of standing beside both “criminal” and “victim” is enthrallingly captured by Sarandon. It’s not weakness but it’s not strength as well. You can see in her face that something beyond her is keeping hope and remaining at the side of a revolting yet confused person like Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn).