out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Review by MrBrown
3½ stars out of 4
Robert Altman's most fun movie since 1992's _The_Player_ is this wickedly
enjoyable dark comedy--which, any way you slice it, is one steaming slab of
Southern-fried soap. Among those populating the small town of Holly
Springs are scheming spinster Camille (Glenn Close); her spineless,
half-wit sister Cora (Julianne Moore); Cora's rebellious daughter Emma (Liv
Tyler), who is carrying on with another half-wit, sheriff's deputy Jason
(Chris O'Donnell); Camille and Cora's octogenarian aunt Cookie (Patricia
Neal); and Cookie's only friend, ever-faithful handyman Willis (Charles S.
Dutton). As in any soap, this family has more than its share of scandalous
secrets--which gradually break through the surface when one of these people
turns up dead.
But unlike any soap, there is an uncommon richness of character in Anne
Rapp's script, which carves out memorable niches for even the most
peripheral of characters, such as a sheriff's department receptionist
(Niecy Nash) with the hots for a suave investigator (Courtney B. Vance).
Rapp, Altman, and the well-cast acting ensemble are fully aware of the
preposterousness of the twisted goings-on. What isn't preposterous,
though, is the craft behind the whole affair, from the precision of
Altman's direction to the uniformly fine work by the acting ensemble, whose
standouts are the terrific Dutton and Close, the latter displaying a comic
gift too rarely seen onscreen.
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