out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
The Gingerbread Man
Review by MrBrown
3 stars out of 4
John Grisham. Robert Altman. Kenneth Branagh. This odd assemblage of
talent suggests a most unusual film, but there's just about nothing
unconventional about this thriller, which gets the formulaic job done--with
a considerable amount of style. In the bestselling author's first story
written directly for the screen (the screenplay itself is written by Al
Hayes--a.k.a. Altman), cocky Savannah lawyer Rick Magruder (Branagh)
becomes romantically and professionally entangled with one Mallory Doss
(Embeth Davidtz), a young woman who is being stalked by her unstable
derelict father Dixon (Robert Duvall). Rick succeeds in having him
committed, but he is sprung by his cronies just about as soon as he is
locked up, not only placing Mallory in danger but Rick and his family as well.
Sounds like boilerplate Grisham, and that The Gingerbread Man is for all
of its twisty (yet predictable) way. But what makes this one of the more
interesting Grisham thrillers is Altman, who leaves his indelible signature
under the familiar trimmings. The film has a most daunting atmosphere,
created through a rich synthesis of stunning photography (by Chinese
cinematographer Changwei Gu) and haunting music (created electronically by
Mark Isham). Altman's penchant for long takes and complex sound design are
also in evidence, as is his uncanny ability to attract a lot of solid
acting talent (in addition to Branagh, Duvall, and Davidtz, the cast
includes Robert Downey Jr., Daryl Hannah, Tom Berenger, and Famke Janssen).
None of these touches are surprising; what is--refreshingly so--is how
well Altman's distinct, idiosyncratic tools service the needs of as
straightforward an entertainment as a this. In the end, The Gingerbread
Man may not be a slick crowdpleaser like A Time to Kill or The Rainmaker,
but it's the closest a Grisham film has come to approaching art.
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