Movie Review: The Green Mile

I had never seen Frank Darabont’s The Green Mile until just the other day, and to be quite honest, I was underwhelmed. Let’s start out with the fact that its 3 hours long. Now this isn’t always a problem, but these three hours feel long. And as Darabont’s second feature (and his second Stephen King adaptation) it really doesn’t challenge what we knew about him as a film maker. He makes very comfortable movies that I think are what the populace expect a good movie to be. But maybe I’m crazy when I think a truly good movie should challenge you.

There will be another time and place for why I dislike Tom Hanks (it mostly has to do with Meg Ryan and Big), but his performance as a death row jail warden is very touching and sincere. The supposed “breakout” performance is from the Academy nominated Michael Clarke Duncan. He gives about zero emotional range and just strains his face into contortions that inspired The Ring. I actually don’t think he was terrible, he was quite good, he just had the unfortunate job of being next to Sam Rockwell, the best working character actor. Although fun fact, apparently if you recognize Duncan on the street, he’ll give you 5 bucks. Good for him.

Sam Rockwell gives the craziest performance as a very showy, loud, offensive, sinister, and let’s face it, hilarious criminal. He gives this incredibly honest and tortured performance that completely outshines everyone else in the cast.

I discussed Darabont’s safe take on this work earlier. He doesn’t push the mysticism, the racism, the class difference or anything. He stays in the very comfortable happy miracles and friendship zone. He does however stick to something, if only to create a frame narrative. SPOILER When the old man reveals that he is 108 years old and still young, Darabont introduces the dark element of any King adaptation. Our centenarian is accepting God’s punishment for letting John Coffey die. It’s a little dark, a little creepy, and I like it!!!!!

And since the Oscar’s are the true measure of whether something is good or not, let’s look at its nominations and its deserving-ness.

Best Supporting Actor: Michael Clarke Duncan in the role of John Coffey. Sure he deserved it, but Rockwell deserved it more.

Best Sound: I’m no sound mix expert but there were a lot of cool sound effects and nothing offended me. I’ll buy the nomination.

Best Adapted Screenplay: It’s long, emotional, and successful. In those terms I understand it’s nomination, but I wouldn’t have given it the nomination. I think it actually lags in a couple place. It’s only redemption is the ending.

Best Picture: Well I’m glad it lost to my favorite Best Picture winner, “American Beauty.” This is another not deserved nomination. Magnolia deserved this spot and I don’t even like that movie. But it challenges me and is well made. Or what about the Talented Mr. Ripley? Certainly just as Oscar-baity and I think a lot more gutsy, stylized, beautiful, and thought-provoking (not to mention better acted and filmed).

All in all. I liked the film. It’s very touching, its successful in its goals, it handles the mystic well, and cuts the happiness with a bit of a dark ending. And possibly the best mouse film. I would recommend it, but only to my mom and my grandma, not to cinephiles. I don’t think it nearly deserves its #85 ranking on IMDB, but what are rankings anyway.



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