Virginia Madsen had plenty to celebrate this Thanksgiving. Last month, she was an official honoree of Hollywood’s LA Femme International Film Festival, an annual celebration of films written, directed or produced by women, for her achievements during 27 years in TV and film, and also for her recently formed production company’s maiden offering: I Know a Woman Like That, an acclaimed documentary about the lives of women 64 and older whose youthful vigor remains defiantly undiminished.
Jake and Elwood Blues claimed to be on a mission from God, but Eli, the rugged road warrior whose destiny lies somewhere west of the Mississippi, really believes it. With the Lord as his shepherd and a King James Bible stashed next to his machete, Eli wanders America’s post-apocalyptic wasteland of the not-too-distant future with a singular purpose: spreading the good word.
It’s easier said than done. “Stay on the path,” Eli (Denzel Washington) mutters as he surveys the skeletal remains of a once-bustling nation, willing himself onward in a lonely journey made treacherous with pitfalls. Cannibals scour the countryside for easy prey, and, more ominously, there’s Carnegie, a power-hungry tyrant eager to make what’s left of the lower 48 his personal playground.
You might expect Denzel Washington to seem intimidating. At 55, he’s a two-time Oscar winner, the broad-shouldered star of Glory and Training Day, an actor who commands the screen with effortless authority. Despite his iconic stature, he can disappear into a role with ease, but at the end of the day he remains one of Hollywood’s most recognizable leading men. Introductions are unnecessary.
He offers one anyway. “Call me Eli,” he says, flashing the thousand-watt smile that inspired People to name him Sexiest Man Alive in 1996.