In light of recent events, Burden won’t be an easy film to watch. The story follows the true-to-life events around the opening of a museum in South Carolina dedicated to the history of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) during the late 90s.
The protagonist is Mike Burden (Garrett Hedlund) who has spent years living on the margins of society under the spell of manipulative KKK leader Tom Griffin (Tom Wilkinson). Rising through the ranks of the hate group, Mike is now one of Griffin’s loyal lieutenants, and he proudly assists in the opening of the museum.
Forest Whitaker plays Reverend Kennedy, the local preacher who vows to do everything in his power to maintain order. His sermons sometimes conflict – summoning both forgiveness to the enemy and rising to the fight when their security is threatened.
Mike meanders through a number of jobs around town and during a routine house re-possession, he meets Judy (Andrea Riseborough) a courageous single mother. While attracted to Mike, Judy is cautious; she is aware he’s KKK and she knows of the troublesome life that would ensue if she got involved with him.
However, after falling in love with Judy and her young son, and reconnecting with a high-school acquaintance Clarence (played by Usher Raymond), Mike ultimately chooses to abandon his long-held beliefs, leaving behind his violent past in the hopes of building a brighter future and raising a family.
Soon, both Burden and Kennedy find themselves on a collision course with Griffin, who is determined to lure Mike back into the fold, or to see him punished for his betrayal. Penniless and desperate, Mike reluctantly accepts the hand of forgiveness from Kennedy, who will take the young family into his home and help get Mike employment — acts that the Reverend’s own family don’t understand but accept. In a further act of survival, Mike’s actions will pivot the story in a direction, that if you’re not familiar with the true tale, will surprise you.
Burden is a frank retelling of the events and people behind the story. The script was in development for well over a decade while writer Andrew Heckler visited the community and formed a bond with the characters to prove to them that he was the right person to tell it. Hedland plays the troubled Burden well, even if the wobbly-way he carries himself seems extreme at times.
Burden is available now to rent on Foxtel Store until 4 July 2020.
Running Time: 117 Minutes
Written and directed by: Andrew Heckler
Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Forest Whitaker, Tom Wilkinson, Andrea Riseborough, Tess Harper, Crystal Fox, Usher