Now an inmate of an old folks' home, sometime Death Row guard Paul Edgecomb (Hanks) relates his Depression Era experiences on 'The Green Mile', the strip of lime linoleum that leads to the execution chamber. His memories centre on black inmate John Coffey (Duncan), a gentle giant convicted of murdering two white girls. Yet Coffey seems anything but violent: he's afraid of the dark and later reveals a gift for spiritual healing. Where Darabont's earlier period prison drama The Shawshank Redemption (also based on a Stephen King original) was very much of a piece, this suffers from a surfeit of plot threads and characters, some more compelling than others: for example, the volatile relationship between Edgecomb and a fellow guard, whose sadistic behaviour must be tolerated because he's the state governor's nephew. By contrast, the sentimental scenes featuring a Cajun inmate and his pet mouse soon become tiresome. The supernatural elements carry an undeniable emotional charge, but the solution to the underlying murder mystery is disappointingly tidy and trite. The flawless production design ensures one can almost smell the burning flesh, but Thomas Newman's score turns up the 'triumph of the human spirit' meter to 11.
Cast and crew
Tom Hanks David Morse Bonnie Hunt James Cromwell Michael Clarke Duncan Michael Jeter Graham Greene Sam Rockwell Gary Sinise Harry Dean Stanton