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THE GREEN MILE, 1999
Movie Review

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THE GREEN MILE MOVIE POSTER
THE GREEN MILE, 1999
Movie Reviews

Directed by Frank Darabont
Starring: Tom Hanks, Micheal Clarke, Duncan, Bonnie Hunt, James Cromwell, Michael Jeter, Graham Greene, Sam Rockwell, Barry Pepper
Review by Anthony Suen



SYNOPSIS:

Paul Edgecomb sits in a retirement home trying to escape his past. Seemingly reminding him itself, time takes us back to a period where Edgecombís life is surrounded by death. From death however, something greater than life enters his world. Along the corridors of the ďGreen Mile,Ē the nickname for Death Row, Edgecomb, a correctional officer, receives an inmate condemned to the electric chair. John Coffey is hulking, gentle, innocent and scared. More so, heís a man with a gift, and a miracle himself. How could one kill a miracle?

OSCAR nominee for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Duncan), Best Sound, Best Screenplay

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REVIEW:

Thereís not much I can say about this film thatís not already been said. Iím also positive that you, who are reading this right now, have seen it, or heard of it, or itís been recommended to you at some point in your life. Not only because you wouldnít click on this review otherwise, but because this film has good reason to produce speechlessness in those who have experienced it. Itís a damn good movie.

Yes, its three hours long. Yes, that may seem intimidating; it is for any would-be viewer. I donít need to convince you that youíll forget about its length, because it wastes no time immersing you into the story. The Green Mile does not let your mind go until youíve made it to the end, and when you do, you wonít want to leave. This is a film that is everlasting; one of the few which are capable of staying alive for years to come. This is a classic film.

Coming from The Shawshank Redemption, my most educated guess would be that Frank Darabont felt he had something good going, so why not run with it? When a mentality such as that appears in a filmmakerís head, either a regurgitating of sequels pop up, or something like this happens. Darabont put magic on screen, twice.

The first was a screen adaptation from a Stephen King novella. This one was an adaptation of a Stephen King novel. The first was a critical and commercial success. This one, as it would turn out, surpasses the praise of its predecessor. It has been nominated for over five Oscars (unfortunately not winning one, much to my objection), won several Saturn awards, considered a masterpiece of the drama genre, and one of my favourite films. There are too many things that carry this movie towards its fame; if I tried explaining them, I would risk missing a crucial factor contributing to its success.

Nonetheless, the most important factors are not hard to distinguish. One of these is the exceptional and unforgettable performance of two particular actors, among others. Tom Hanks being one and an unknown actor by the name of Michael Clarke Duncan being the other. Surprisingly, Hanksí performance was not the spotlight of this film. Itís hard to choose between these two performances, as both of them seem to complement each other so perfectly that having to choose is a daunting thought. Hanks provides one of the most profoundly honest performances Iíve seen in dramas, and Duncanís acting is just superb from beginning to end. Itís his heavy-set frame that seems to get attention in the film industry, but this film is his highlight, and the proof the world has that this man can act.

The film begins in present day, as Paul Edgecomb (Hanks) is an old man in a retirement home, watching an old film on television while several elderly are crowded in front of it. He begins to cry. Every time I look back on that scene, the first of many scenes that hit you hard, I guarantee youíll feel something. Maybe youíll get chills, or a lump in your throat. Maybe youíll even hold back a few tears, but youíll feel something. Once you watch this film, even just once, it makes you feel something. Particularly, seeing David Morseówho plays a character that emanates a tough, no-nonsense intimidatoróhave tears in his eyes at the end of the film. That did it for me.

The tear-jerking qualities are not this filmís only qualityófar from it. I mentioned before two particular actors, but Iíll confirm for you thereís an ensemble of cast members accompanying them. Some of them are inmates, some of them are officers. Some are kind-hearted, others are malignant and insane. But these characters are complicated. There are those who you can easily label as this or that, but like any well-produced film, we connect. Thereís no question of the two protagonists, but when these supporting characters share their emotions with us, itís an emotional catalyst, if you will; nudge us on in our attachment with the characters, plot and story.

Besides that, thereís that ever-present risk that goes hand-in-hand with adaptations. Is it better? Is it as good? Does it destroy its source material, or complement it? The thing about what Frank Darabont did is that he probably gave Stephen King a vaster fanbase after those two films. Not like King needs it, but this film achieved the title of a medium-blender. Watch this film, and youíll be inspired to read the book. Read the bookóthough itís not my place to say (I, for one, havenít read it)óand you might find out that you prefer this version over the other. Iíll assume that the third case of this film falling short of the novelís prestige a rare one, but if that is the case, Iíll also assume it doesnít fall much.

By the end of it all, I didnít know what to make of it. Sure, it was quite overwhelming with such an emotional response to a film. I can describe to you why this film deserved what it got, and how you might react after seeing it, but I canít describe to you why it makes you feel that way. I can describe to you the expertness put into crafting these emotions, or maybe how all the components that were put into this movie worked perfectly to what it wanted to achieve. I canít tell you, in few words, what this film is, or expresses, or presents. I simply think I wonít find the right ones.

What I can tell you is that you should go see this film. Iím sure youíve gathered that Iím fond of it. ĎEmotionalí would probably be included in the few words to describe it, if I were forced to. Most likely mixed in with some words of devoted praise and recommendation. The point is The Green Mile is a wonderful film. Itís one of the best dramas Iíve ever seen, with some of the best performances Iíve ever witnessed. Itís Frank Darabontís (arguably) biggest achievement, if not his second. Maybe both of his King adaptations belong together as his greatest trophy. Whatever the case may be, The Green Mile is an example of why we watch movies. We want to be moved, in some form or another, and this film doesnít hold back.

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