Reviewed by: Hillari Hunter
Starring: Tom Hanks, James Cromwell, Michael Duncan, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Clarke Duncan | Director: Frank Darabont | Producer: David Valdes | Writers: Frank Darabont, Stephen King (book) | Distributed by: Castle Rock Entertainment
It is no accident that condemned prisoner John Coffey’s (Michael Clarke Duncan) initials are the same as our Savior. Coffey is a gentle giant who is able to heal by placing his hands on the afflicted. After prison guard Paul Edgecombe (Tom Hanks) is cured of an infection, he slowly comes to believe that Coffey is innocent. However, it is 1935, they are in the deep south of the United States, and Coffey, an African-American, has not, and will not get, a fair trial. Despite the obstacles, the men develop a friendship that transcends Death Row.
The supernatural elements of the story enhance their relationship, but does not overpower the plot. It actually enhances the themes of resilience, repentance and faith.
The lead actors are great. Hanks plays Edgecombe as a decent, humane man, who does not relish being an executioner of men, but has a duty to his job. Duncan does well in his part of a child-like man, bewildered by his dire circumstances. Doug Hutchinson (better known as the monster Toombs from a couple of famous “X-Files” episodes) is good as a sadistic guard. Bonnie Hunt, known for comedic roles, is solid as Edgecombe’s supportive wife. Many of the actors shine in smaller roles as well.
There are a couple of scenes of implied sex between Edgecombe and his wife. Several characters use foul language and racial slurs. The violence level is above average. Electric chair executions are shown; one in particular is very graphic. Otherwise, this movie is nicely put together and a powerful story. This is recommended strictly for adults.
Year of Release—1999