The movie begins as a satire, rolling inexorably forward — like the meatball in the camp song — building steam, mass and weight until it completely obliterates every bogus piety in its path. What's revealed in its wake is an empathetic, humanistic vision that rejects, even in difficult, extreme cases, the mob impulse to demonize.
Here's the full review. I blogged A.O. Scott's review about this film earlier. I'll finish the novel this weekend well before the film arrives here in Little Rock.