Written: Dec. 13, 1999
Can a miracle happen in one of the worst places on earth?
This is the very question posed by author Stephen King and director Frank Darabont. The Green Mile is set in the 1920s at the height of the Depression and where people were always looking for hope.
Tom Hanks plays Paul Edgecomb, a head prison guard assigned to the infamous “Green Mile” which is the name of that prison’s death row. Its name originates from the pale green floor within the section. The inmates and the guards on the Green Mile care and at times even nurture each other. I think this is why King decided to base the story in a simpler time.
Through the course of the film, Hank has to fight a bladder infection, a vicious spoiled brat guard and a giant with a heart of gold. It’s through these conflicts that we see the story emerge.
Hank’s continues his allure as one of the greatest actors of our generation but does tug hard on keeping our attention. His conflict with the vicious Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison) is over stretched and becomes a bore. Percy is tyrannical and reminded me a lot of an impression of Kevin Spacey or Tim Roth instead of an actual credible performance. To be blunt Percy’s devilish nature seemed to be staged, predictable and never really frightening. I can see the reason for the character but he is so cliched it really bugged me.
For me the amazing performance was in the giant, John Coffey. Michael Duncan who plays John Coffey was amazing and brilliant in his very simple role. I look forward to seeing more of him.
Darabont’s sweet tone and melodrama made me really yearn for a rough real prison opus like BravoTV’s “OZ”. Death row is supposed to be bleak and the last refuge for the convict. But when I witnessed the execution scenes, a different view came to be. It seemed each time Hank’s crew killed a man they lost a little part of their world and that kept me in my chair. Asking the question how much of their world will be lost to “Old Sparky”? They were gut-wrenching scenes.
A delicate and delightful addition to the film is the world we enter when we are introduced to “Mister Jiggles”, the mouse, who makes us smile every time he moves that spool. It’s his addition that cleverly uncovers the miracle and the depth of love within one giant’s being.
A continuing debate I have around the film is the ending was it the appropriate ending? Without ruining it for the masses write me with your thoughts. Could it end another way?
The Green Mile is very long especially with an accompaniment of trailers which stretch the length to 3 and a half hours. I witnessed people actually get up and leave before the final revelation even finished. As I walked out of the theatre I began to wonder if this film maybe should have been a mini-series instead of a feature. Director Darabont’s previous film “The Shawshank Redemption” was another prison piece with a better message and a better length.
(4 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer