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Cookie's Fortune

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Cookie's Fortune

Starring: Glenn Close, Charles S. Dutton
Director: Robert Altman
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 118 Minutes
Release Date: April 1999
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler, Chris O'Donnell, Patricia Neal, Ned Beatty, Courtney B. Vance, Donald Moffat, Lyle Lovett

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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