Stephen King's novels have a roller-coaster like history in terms of
movie adaptations. For every Misery, there is an Apt Pupil and a Maximum
Overdrive. That's not to say that every Stephen King story is a masterpiece
but it is a reminder that just because his name is associated with something
doesn't necessarily mean it will be good stuff. Thankfully, The Green
Mile is based on a good story. The resulting movie is just short of brilliant.
Starring: Tom Hanks, David Morse, and Michael
Green Mile tells the story
of Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) and his co-workers at a Louisiana prison
in 1935. They work on death row, which is sometimes
called "the last mile" in other prisons. In their prison, however,
death row is called "the green mile" because of the green floor.
is having a particularly rough summer. He's come down with a painful
urinary infection and he also has to deal with new employee Percy (Doug
Hutchinson), the nephew of the governor, who basically does what he
wants -- no matter
how cruel -- without fear of reprimand. Adding to his problems is a new
inmate, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a gigantic black man who
has been convicted of raping and murdering two little girls.
From their first meeting, Paul seems to have his doubts about the incongruity
of Coffey's demeanor and the deed that brought him to death row. Coffey
is quiet, polite and asks if they leave the lights on when it's bedtime.
Coffey is afraid of the dark. And, as Paul and the other guards will soon
find out, he possesses a gift that seems to have spiritual origins.
Director Frank Darabont also
wrote the screenplay, which is based on Stephen King's multi-part novella, "The Green Mile." Darabont
allows the characters ample room to grow and breathe. The film clocks
in at just over three hours but it never seems to drag or become tiresome.
The dialogue and the performances keep things moving at an excellent pace.
Even with the subject matter, rooted in an odd combination of spirituality,
humor, and horror, is handled with particular aplomb.
Hanks and Duncan are the foundation
of the film. Without question, their performances are superb. However,
there are many equally good actors who
shine in The Green Mile. David Morse is notable as Brutus "Brutal" Howell,
Paul's second-in-command. Michael Jeter and Sam Rockwell are exceptional
as Coffey's fellow inmates. James Cromwell is his usual stoic self as
Warden Hal Moores. The only odd misstep is Graham Greene as Arlen Bitterbuck.
I may be wrong, but I don't believe he utters a single word of dialogue
in the film. Harry Dean Stanton's cameo as Toot is funny and a little
disturbing (if only for its context: a practice run in the electric chair.)
Green Mile is a solid film with a great cast, many memorable moments
and a few things to say about the state of humanity. It's definitely one
of the best Stephen King movie adaptations so far. It does not reach the
level of The Shawshank Redemption, also directed by Frank Darabont, but
it does come quite close. An excellent and highly recommended film.
one cemetery scene, all the names on the headstones are anagrams of
the word "story." This is director Frank Darabont's way
of saying that in Hollywood, the story is dead. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)