Review of 'The Green Mile'

green_mile.jpg Based on the story by Stephen King, “The Green Mile” is based on the recollection of a Louisiana State Prison death row guard Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) who in the 1930s met John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), an inmate with not only a child-like innocence character but also the remarkable gift. At the time Paul suffers from a painful bladder infection but when Coffey manages to touch him he is completely healed. As time passes Paul is more and more convinced of Coffey's innocence and is determined to do protect him at all costs. Sadistic warden Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), nephew of the governor's wife, cares more for his career than for the inmates who he regularly tortures and humiliates. After a tragic diagnosis of a close friend is made known Paul is determined to find a way to smuggle Coffey out of the prison without anyone noticing and keep Percy out of the way…

This is a remarkable and touching film from one of the best popular writers of modern times. The nuance of character and story is in evident throughout though always keeping the viewer in suspense as you never quite know what will happen next. This is a film that is not afraid to take it's time to sensitively focus on each of the characters being clear that no one is truly evil or good, indeed here the tables are often turned from our expectations with the wardens (particularly Percy) often much more “evil” than the inmates. The film utterly convinces in it's portrayal of 1930s Louisiana from the sets, the mannerisms, through to the dialogue. We are never in doubt of where and when we are.

Tom Hanks makes a surprisingly dramatic turn here as guard Pual Edgecomb – a very simple, human and compassionate soul who treats the inmates under his care with compassion and understanding. His performance is one of true commitment and believably - He IS Paul Edgecomb. Similarly Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey compels with his utter innocence and incredible empathy. “Simple” the character may be but the most loving character there is no doubt. Despite little dialogue Duncan captivates every second he is on the screen. It is only the character of Percy Wetmore performed by Doug Hutchison that slightly grates as the extreme “baddie” as well as the role of William 'Wild Bill' Wharton played by Sam Rockwell – Both are truly “bad men” (as Coffey tells it).

The film does tend to drag somewhat but deserves attention. Make time to sit down and drink it deeply in, you will be greatly rewarded for doing so.

A touching and moving film told with compassion. I defy you to watch and not walk away with tears in your eyes.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2019-10-26

Directed by: Frank Darabont

Studio: Castle Rock Entertainment

Year: 1999

Length: 189 minutes

Genre: Melodrama