The Green Mile
There's a slight dishonesty to the Retro Filmspots. This is a chance to right some wrongs, bring attention to the little guy, overlook the popular choice for something that can better define who we are as a group. I am guilty of this as well. I am very proud of last year's discovery of Un homme qui dort. (I believe it was Martin who got our attention.) This was an earned surprise. A film most of us never even heard of, but really wanted to champion it because it was honestly worth the acclaim. I hope we discover one of those this year too, but I hope you don't overlook the greatness of The Green Mile.
How many of you last saw this film over 10 years ago? How many of you are rolling your eyes right now because I'm writing great things about the movie that pretty much had greatness stamped on it before it was even released? (BTW, all of you who never understood the acclaim for The Green Mile, I submit this review by one of our own
.) As for me, I loved this film then and I still love it today. The three hours goes by quickly because there's a lot of solid actors playing interesting characters, so Frank Darabont can quickly bounce from one situation to the next. Every prisoner, every guard and every family member make a distinct impression, and none of them need an excessive amount of time to do it.
There's a clean simplicity to the story, kind of like a fable. I love that the script doesn't go for complexity. It focuses on the people and gives them a lot of heart without pulling our strings. (Maybe a little gentle plucking.) The bookend section does reach for an importance that isn't needed. The biggest misstep I found. Overall I think this is better than his more acclaimed The Shawshank Redemption.
How about this cast? Tom Hanks, effortlessly commanding. (He also has the best small moment in this big movie when he's finally able to pee again.) There are shades of later Sam Rockwell performances in Wild Bill, but the nasty edge here makes it distinct among his work. My favorite performance is David Morse as the tough but tender guard nicknamed "Brutal". I used to be more of a fan of Doug Hutchison's sadistic Percy Whitmore, but he was a bit obvious in his evil at times. The picked on kid who grew up to have some power, needs more subtlety. Another difference watching this film today is Michael Clarke Duncan's character. It's become known as "the Magical Negro", and heavily criticized like a racial stereotype. I guess I see what they're talking about, and Duncan is the most limited actor in this strong ensemble. However, he really puts his heart into John Coffey, and his final scene still put a lump in my throat.RATING: * * * *
Possible Retro Filmspot Nominations:
Actor - Kevin Spacey
Supporting Actor - David Morse
Supporting Actor - Sam Rockwell
Best Year - Sam Rockwell