'The Green Mile' - Movie Review

Based on a not-actually-horror novel by Stephen King, "The Green Mile" stars Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb, the supervisor at a death row block in a depression-era prison. The first half hour of the film (it runs three hours, so they take their time) is taken to show that Edgecomb and three out of his four employees are dedicated humanists, doing their best to make their prisoner's last days as peaceful as they can manage.

They receive a new inmate, John Coffey (played by Michael Clarke Duncan ... and notice his character's initials) an enormous black man convicted of raping and killing two very young girls. It rapidly becomes clear that Coffey may not be entirely there mentally: among other things, he's afraid of the dark. And as time progresses, they find that Coffey just doesn't seem like a murderer ... and in fact may even be capable of performing miracles.

The movie is perhaps too long, but the time is used to create powerful characters and take a really good look at them. Hanks is excellent as usual, but he gets great support from David Morse, Barry Pepper and Jeffrey DeMunn as his employees, and particularly Duncan - whose brilliant and heart-breaking performance really makes this movie possible. The current-day frame story is totally unnecessary and detracts from the film as a whole - but happily doesn't break it. A great and thought-provoking movie about morality and man's inhumanity to man.