out of 4
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Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4
Robert Altman, one of the screen's most intriguing
story-tellers, is back again with writer Anne Rapp's sweetly satirical
tale about the genteel citizens of a small Southern town. Holly
Springs, Mississippi, is a place where very little happens which is
why - when an eccentric, old lady is found shot in the head in her bed
- everyone becomes involved. Patricia Neal plays the indomitable
matriarch, Jewel Mae "Cookie" Orcutt, who lives with her kindly black
handyman Willis (Charles S. Dutton), much to the consternation of her
pretentious, hypocritical niece Camille (Glenn Close) who, in turn,
dominates her sweet, simple-minded sister Cora (Julianne Moore). While
Camille's directing a production of Oscar Wilde's "Salome," which she
has adapted for the local Presbyterian Church, Cookie decides to join
her late husband in heaven and commits suicide, using a "peacemaker"
from his gun collection which Willis has just cleaned and
polished. When Camille finds her aunt's bloody body, she is determined
to avoid the "disgrace." "Only crazy people commit suicide," she
mutters. So she messes up the house and makes it look like a
murder. And, of course, Willis becomes the prime suspect. Poor Willis!
All he wants in life is some Wild Turkey bourbon, catfish enchiladas,
and hanging out with his friends at a Theo's Bar, a blues club.
Fortunately, the sheriff (Ned Beatty) is Willis's fishing buddy, as is
the town's only lawyer (Donald Moffat) who comes to his
defense. Meanwhile, there's a muddled subplot involving Cora's
rebellious daughter Emily (Liv Tyler) and a naive young deputy (Chris
O'Donnell). On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Cookie's Fortune"
is a rambling but whimsical, fascinating 7, a deliciously nutty black
comedy of manners.
Copyright © 1999 Susan Granger
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