Barry Levinson directed this crime drama based on a controversial bestseller. Jason Patrick stars as Lorenzo, a New York reporter more commonly called "Shakes," a nickname courtesy of his three childhood pals from Hell's Kitchen -- Michael (Brad Pitt), John (Ron Eldard), and Tommy (Billy Crudup). As kids, all four were sent to reform school after accidentally killing someone during a cruel prank. There, the boys were raped and beaten by several guards, including Sean Nokes (Kevin Bacon), a fact that they've kept secret into adulthood. Michael is now a rising star in the district attorney's office, while John and Tommy are founders of the Irish gang the Westies. When Nokes walks into John and Tommy's hangout, they kill him in cold blood and go on trial, defended by a drug-addicted lawyer (Dustin Hoffman). Michael and Shakes conspire with childhood friend Carol (Minnie Driver) and local priest Father Bobby (Robert DeNiro) to free their friends and get even with the surviving guards. Based on a true story chronicled by Lorenzo Carcaterra in his novel of the same name, Sleepers stirred controversy when the veracity of the book was challenged by reporters who could find no documentation of the events described.
by Karl Williams synopsis