“The Green Mile (1999)” Review

I think this film’s cheese slid off its cracker.

Why did I watch it?

Having been bowled over by how good The Shawshank Redemption was, how could I resist another film directed by Frank Darabont and based on a Stephen King story? (Plus @joenicholls kept hassling me to watch it…though perhaps that’s because there’s a character called Coffey, like the drink, but spelled different.)

Did it meet expectations?

Well, it’s also set in a prison. But that’s more or less where the similarity ends.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that a film that heavily features a mouse should be prone to a little cheesiness in its staging and special effects – there’s even an execution during an electrical storm (but after Shawshank lightning doesn’t strike twice…) and the bill for light bulbs at the Louisiana State Penitentiary must be astronomical. As soon as Mr Jingles (the mouse) makes his appearance you know what his fate will be (well, maybe not his ultimate fate…) The fact that Coffey is the one black character (excepting an orderly with just one line) makes his status as a kind of magic negro particularly stand out (“to tell the truth, bawse, I don’t know much o’ anything”).

That said there are decent, suitably restrained performances in particular from Tom Hanks, David Morse (House), James Cromwell (L. A. Confidential) and Patricia Clarkson (House of Cards). Sam Rockwell does his thing, but that’s always entertaining, and he’s appropriately cast here. Unfortunately Doug Hutchison (The X-files’ Eugene Toombs) seems to think he’s in a Batman movie…

You should watch it if…

  • You want a fable concerned with compassion, and finding a miracle in the darkness

You shouldn’t watch it if…

  • You’re hoping for Shawshank 2

Up next: Robin Hood (2010)

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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