Director Spotlight: The Gingerbread Man

While I’m familiar with some of Robert Altman’s work, I know there are films that I never heard of that he worked on.  That’s why I choose 1998’s The Gingerbread Man for this month’s Director’s Spotlight.  It was a film that I wasn’t aware of and after seeing the cast, I quickly volunteered for.

The film is based on an original screenplay by John Grisham.  Altman actually had such a hand in rewriting the script that the fictitious Al Hayes is credited.

British actor Kenneth Branagh, taking a break from his typical period pieces, pulls off a great Georgian accent for this film based in Savannah, Georgia.  It was nice to see a film where Grisham has written a flawed lawyer.  Altman, along with Branagh, does a great job showing us the main characters ups and owns in his roller coaster mental state as a lawyer caught in family feud that he unknowingly got into the middle of and is trying to help with.

 While at this point it seems this is a mainly positive review, it’s not.  What I previously wrote was all the positive I can write.  Gingerbread Man features a lot of wasted roles.  Robert Downey Jr as a womanizing addict private detective felt silly.  Darryl Hannah was underused and poorly written as a law firm partner that she came across more like a secretary.  To me the most disappointing role was played by Robert Duvall.  To make it clear, it’s not Duvall i’m disappointed in, it’s his character and how he was written and used.  Duvall did what he could with what he was given and even he couldn’t pull it off.

Overall after watching this film, I felt like this was a step down for Altman from character development to just plainly how the film was shot.  Definitely a passable film.  Stick to films such as McCabe and Mrs. Miller or The Long Goodbye for good Robert Altman work.   I give this film 2 out of 5 pitchforks.


Posted on August 20, 2009, in Director Spotlight, Film Review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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