Perhaps it only seems long, attenuated by the intentions with which the road to hell is reputedly paved. In the real-life Sister Prejean, Susan Sarandon has found a plum role for an aging Hollywood sexpot with pretensions to high seriousness (Demi Moore must be

furious). She's an activist nun who defies the church's sexist hierarchy while ministering to poor children and death row inmate Sean Penn. Holy, holy, holy. Sarandon is terrific and Penn is in top form, but the film is an achingly earnest message movie with a curiously muddled message: Death

penalty boosters condemn its mushy liberalism, while opponents see it as an insidious call to fry the bastards. You want to praise overtly political Hollywood cinema, since there's so little of it, but in this case the message should have been left to Western Union.