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Jennifer Jason Leigh,
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Robert Downey Jr.
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
I loved this wry comedy that takes place in a small Mississippi town where everybody is, at least outwardly, friendly with everybody. It was directed by the late Robert Altman (1925-2006), who also gave us M*A*S*H and Nashville, and much more. Terrible title, however. It has nothing to do with fortune cookies, or cookies of any kind. The fortune refers to the assets that the heirs of a family matriarch, whose nickname is Cookie (Patricia Neal), will inherit when she dies.
One of the little comedic touches I appreciated were the historical markers in the town, one of which I think read "nothing historical occurred at this spot."
I enjoyed the treat of four generations (each about 20 years younger than the next) of noted actresses in one film. In addition to movie legend Patricia Neal (1926-2010) who won an Oscar for Hud, Glen Close (who has had 6 Oscar nominations so far) played Camille Dixon, Cookie's over-bearing theatrical-obsessed niece. Four time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore played Camille's subservient and perhaps dim-witted younger sister Cora Duvall. Cute Liv Tyler (who was Arwen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) is Emma Duvall, Cora's estranged daughter.
Charles S. Dutton is great as African-American Willis Richland, who is kind of a genial gentle care-taker for Cookie. At the end of the film we learn he is more than a friend.
Famed singer Lyle Lovett plays a spooky peeping Tom character who is interested in Emma. His role didn't seem to be fully developed and didn't contribute much to the film.
Chris O'Donnell plays a Barney Fife type sheriff's deputy, except he is very good looking and is romantically involved with Emma.
Cookie, who's mind is beginning to go, misses her late husband and kills herself to be with him. Camille Dixon discovers the suicide and initially is shocked and horrified that people will learn that her aunt killed herself (nice people don't commit suicide) and affect Camille's social standing. So she makes it look like a thief murdered Cookie. But once she does that her horror turns to appreciation. She now can move into Cookie's grand house. But she hadn't counted on anyone in the town becoming a murder suspect.
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