Lawyer Rick Magruder has a one-night-stand affair with caterer Mallory Doss. He becomes hooked on her, and when he learns her nut-case father Dixon is threatening her, he puts the weight of his law firm behind Mallory, has Dixon arrested and subpoenas her ex-husband Pete to testify against Dixon in court. Dixon is sent to an asylum, but escapes from there and the lives of many people are in danger.Written by
The screenplay is credited to "Al Hayes". This pseudonym covers for John Grisham, who objected to the foul language that Altman added to his original screenplay. See more »
In the beginning of the movie, as Rick returns to Savannah, Georgia from a trial in Jacksonville, Florida, he crosses the Talmadge Memorial Bridge. The bridge spans the Savannah River and is located north of the city. Jacksonville, of course, is located south of Savannah, and Rick would have to go way out of his way to cross the bridge as he enters Savannah. See more »
Altman's strong suit usually isn't plot, and this shows why
Robert Altman shouldn't make a movie like this, but the fact that he did- and that it turns out to be a reasonably good and tightly-wound thriller in that paperback-tradition of Grisham thrillers- shows a versatility that is commendable. In the Gingerbread Man he actually has to work with something that, unfortunately, he isn't always very successful at, or at least it's not the first thing on his checklist as director: plot. There's one of those big, juicy almost pot-boiler plots where a sleazy lawyer gets caught up with a desperate low-class woman and then a nefarious figure whom the woman is related with enters their lives in the most staggering ways, twists and plot ensues, yada yada. And it's surprising that Altman would really want to take on one of these "I saw that coming from back there!" endings, or just a such a semi-conventional thriller.
But it's a surprise that pays off because, oddly enough, Altman is able to catch some of that very fine behavior, or rather is able to unintentionally coax it out of a very well-cast ensemble, of a small-town Georgian environment. The film drips with atmosphere (if not total superlative craftsmanship, sometimes it's good and sometimes just decent for Altman), as Savannah is possibly going to be hit by a big hurricane and the swamp and marshes and rain keep things soaked and muggy and humid. So the atmosphere is really potent, but so are performances from (sometimes) hysterical Kenneth Branaugh, Embeth Davitz as the 'woman' who lawyer Branaugh gets caught up with, and Robert Downey Jr (when is he *not* good?) as the private detective in Branaugh's employ. Did I neglect Robert Duvall, who in just five minutes of screen time makes such an indelible impression to hang the bad-vibes of the picture on?
As said, some of the plot is a little weak, or just kind of standard (lawyer is divorced, bitter custody battle looms, innocent and goofy kids), but at the same time I think Altman saw something captivating in the material, something darker than some of the other Grisham works that has this standing out somehow. If it's not entirely masterful, it still works on its limited terms as a what-will-happen-next mystery-Southern-noir.
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