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by Tony Lee editor of
The Green Mile
Director: Frank Darabont
188 minutes (18) widescreen 1.85:1 Warner
review by Christopher Teague
Based on a serial novel of the same name by Stephen King, this is quite a faithful
adaptation by Frank Darabont, who also adapted King's earlier The Shawshank
Redemption. The similarities are quite striking, since both films are set in a
prison and within the same time frame, but 'Shawshank' is superior, not that The
Green Mile can be dismissed off-hand.
At its heart, this film concerns the appearance of a convicted child
killer - a giant black man called Coffey - sent to Death Row, under the control of Tom
Hanks. During the resulting three hours or so, Hanks' discovers Coffey's gift and
begins to doubt the conviction. The Green Mile does contain a wealth of acting
talent, and Darabont is definitely a writer/director of quality, but the film suffers
from an overdose of saccharine, an affliction which Shawshank never had.
I may sound like a hard-nosed cynic, but I did enjoy the film (and
the book for that matter) but the sugary preaching just spoiled it for me: the act of
the death penalty being shoved down our throats is wrong (we all have our own ideas,
and I don't like to be force-fed one man's view); the character of Coffey was played
too a sickening level of dumbness; and, the general atmosphere was just 'go on, cry,
you know you want to.'
The Green Mile is a classic Sunday afternoon weepie - the sort of film that your
granny would tell your mother to watch: a 'Champ' for the Nineties.
originally published online in VideoVista #19, October 2000
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