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Cookie's Fortune unfolds over an eventful Easter weekend in the small town of Holly Springs, Mississippi. The town residents are peaceful, kind folk -- with the exception of Camille Dixon -- a pushy theatre director with an incredibly shy younger sister, Cora, whose estranged daughter Emma has just returned to town. On the heels of her latest play, Camille is shocked to discover that her Aunt Jewel Mae "Cookie" Orcutt has committed suicide. Terrified at the thought of how this will tarnish the family name, she eats the suicide note to make it look like a burglary. This set-up leads the police to one main suspect, Willis Richland, who also happens to be Cookie's best friend. Although the rest of the town is convinced Willis didn't commit the crime, an outside investigator isn't so sure. As Easter Sunday and opening night of the play arrive, the truth comes out, revealing more secrets than anyone could have possibly imagined. Written by
Enjoyably light film with only a few moments of misjudged seriousness and humour
In the small town of Holly Springs, Mississippi, the highly strung Camille is leading rehearsals for a performance of Salome. When she drops in on her Aunt Cookie (whom she has a frosty relationship with) she finds that Cookie has taken her own life in order to be with her late husband again. Unwilling to have her family name tarnished by this shameful act, Camille takes a necklace and moves things around to suggest a murder. Things get more complicated when Cookie's caretaker and loyal friend is arrested for the murder and the investigation begins in earnest.
I wasn't sure what this film was about when I took up to watch it but was wary as often I have found Altman films to be too sprawling for my tastes and have struggled to get into them. This film started well and light and pretty much managed to retain that feeling for the duration, making it enjoyable to watch. In terms of plot, the central action is strong enough to hold the focus, although really the film is more about the characters than anything else. This is good as I felt the film's strength was the cast and the characters. All the characters are watchable and interesting whether they be amusing, likeable or strange.
The film's humour is good as it matches the light tone it sets itself. At times though the humour is misjudged, for the most part it is natural and charming but there are times when the film forces jokes (for example semi-pratfalls etc) and they don't fit the mood. Likewise the drama occasionally goes a little too heavy (the ending for example) but these are minor compared to the effect of the whole. Generally it free wheels along quite nicely funny without ever becoming absurd or unenjoyable. Having said that, it may annoy those who expect more of a firm plot.
The rich ensemble cast makes it worth watching alone. Dutton stands out in the lead role, he is as relaxed and as affable as they come which was needed to carry that role. On the total other side is a well pitched Close, her character needed to be realistic (i.e. not another Cruella De Ville) but still be unpleasant enough not to have the audience with her Close manages it well. Tyler does ok but I found it a little hard to accept her casting at first, O'Donnell appears to have little to do but does well to play a fool without thinking of his career too much. Moore is good in support and Neal's pitching of Cookie's past and personality in only a few scenes enables us to feel for her and thus prevent her dark act from taking away from the light touch too much. Beatty has some great lines and Vance steals many of his scenes with a comic touch.
Overall this film is very slight and may not appeal to all for that reason. I felt like I'd had a rest on a hot day after watching it it was enjoyable and undemanding. Not perfect by any means but it's fun to spend to hours with the characters herein.
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