The Green Mile - (Import DVD)

Starring David Morse et al

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R 59


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Number of Discs
TV System
Running Time
  1. Frank Darabont
The Green Mile [DVD] [1999]
  1. David Morse
  2. Michael Clarke Duncan
  3. Tom Hanks
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Steve, . 27 March 2003

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 1999 Steve Rhodes

With THE GREEN MILE, writer and director Frank Darabont (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) is back with his second Stephen King adaptation. This time it's the story of a gentle giant, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), who wouldn't harm a fly or a mouse -- more on the rodent later. Since he's a miracle worker who finds himself on death row, the story has a fairytale aspect to soften somewhat its many horrific execution scenes.

Like a beloved old uncle who drops by to tell you a story, Darabont rambles on and on, frequently letting himself get sidetracked. The result is a full three-hour movie that has no business being any longer than two. The viewers listen politely, trying not to fall asleep in the long, slow moments because the acting from the ensemble cast is superb. But with Darabont's proclivity for telegraphing every major plot turn way in advance, much of the drama is removed.

In a performance certain to garner him another best actor nomination, Tom Hanks plays Paul Edgecomb, the head guard of the death row section -- called the "Green Mile" -- of Cold Mountain Penitentiary, where John is sent to be fried in "Old Sparky" for supposedly killing and raping two young girls. Like the rest of the story, the director never allows for much doubt about the crime. (Why can't we have more mystery in our motion pictures?)

Set in 1935, the claustrophobic movie takes place mainly within a few rooms of a prison. David Tattersall's lush cinematography makes the few images outside the prison walls warmly nostalgic and the ones inside, when the miracles occur, magical.

So deeply religious is Paul that he constantly worries about how his actions will affect his own Judgment Day in heaven. More a minister than a guard to most of his inmates, he can deal effectively with troublemakers if the situation calls for it. Even if he gets awards for his performance, Hanks's work here is relatively middle of the road for him, which is a compliment to his talents. He doesn't even have to deliver his strongest work to justly be considered for an Academy Award.

A mouse named Mr. Jingles, who gets lots of screen time, steals scene after scene with his antics. The often funny script becomes charming as well when the little critter takes center stage to strut his stuff like the circus insects in A BUG'S LIFE.

"Sometimes the green mile seems so long," we are told in narration. And therein lies the problem. What should have been a great film turns into merely an enjoyable one because of its drawn-out length. The performances are admirable, but the characters aren't quite compelling. You end up respecting the show more than liking it. As it constantly tries to shock us with frightening images of people being electrocuted, we find ourselves becoming dispassionate observers. Sometimes intentional manipulation backfires as it does here. Being instructed to cry on cue every time they turn on the juice, this member of the audience just wasn't able to perform his role properly.

THE GREEN MILE runs a full hour too long at 3:03. It is rated R for violence, language and some sex-related material and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Kim, Sandton. 8 May 2007

Wow!powerful and grisly.sad and Oscar worthy performances!

R 59

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