Cookie's Fortune

By: Shaun

I wish I could say that this film encompassed all the elements needed for a truly good film because If there is one thing that I will not stand for is artificial cover ups, I do not know where to classify this film, it has no character study, it is not a murder mystery, it is only at times entertaining with some devilish fun. I did not like the hectic acting either, I did not know if it was supposed to be amusing to the crowd. Acting frantic and degrading yourself is funny? Sure it is, just not in this film. The characters had no charm or influence over you, no meaning. The plot was slow and seemed to drag longer and longer. Director Robert Altman really took a long period of time to adjust the setting and familiarize us with the town and it’s citizens. Although some scenes were enjoyable the film as a whole was kind of a let down, I am sure if they just bottled the acid a bit it would have been a riot. I heard so much about Altman’s greatness and caliber and that he fled from film for a while, so I was hoping for sort of a Terrence Mialick rejuvenation, but what I received was a pretty sloppy film. Although maybe it is just me who dislikes the film because when I previewed it in the theatre the audience gave it a standing ovation., I was baffled. Maybe they liked the simplicity or felt touched by the way friendship comes above all, or maybe light films are their fetish, who am I to contradict  them. I did however like the way it was written, the dialogue was sharp, witty, and humorous, it gave you a sense of good feeling, but it should have cut to the point a bit quicker. It was too quiet at times when I wanted to be spoken to, "Cookie’s Fortune" should have at least began with some sort of anecdote to get the mood swing placed in. Rather the film gives us the background of every character for the first half hour, this is not so bad if those characteristics would have shown effective as the movie proceeds.Another aspect that I enjoyed in this film are the performances from Liv Tyler and Charles Dutton.

Somewhere down south (I forgot the town’s name) lies a quiet town, runs smoothly, there is a sheriff, noble civilians, churches which perform plays, and it is home of the catfish enchiladas. In the opening scene which is set in a blues bar we meet Willis (Charles Dutton), Altman here plays a nifty trick because as our first encounter with Willis we believe he is a black drunk who steals alcohol from his friends bar. Then he sneaks into an apartment from the window and we are sure that he is committing a felony, just as an old women comes down from the stairs and we believe he is going to either hit or kill her… seconds later we find out that these two are aquatinted and are in fact roommates. The old lady’s name is Cookie (Patricia Neal), she is a little lonely ever since her husband died and has a cabin filled with his old guns, the cabin door never fully shuts, every time someone attempts to shut it, the door just automatically reopen.

The town church is putting on a play which is directed by Camille (Glenn Close), a possessive and aggressive frantic women who seems to be in control of her younger sister Cora (Julian Moore), both give horrible performances which make absolutely no sense and are incoherent. Part of this play is the clumsy deputy Jason (Chris O’Donnell), Jason is your typical naīve wannabe cop whose slapstick scenes are supposed to be funny but sadly is not. Every town has it’s rebel, and that is when Emma (Liv Tyler) comes in, a felon with the most outstanding unpaid parking tickets, she gives a fine performance with funny results, she is also Cookies niece and Cora’s daughter.

The plot kicks in (about 30 minutes into the film) when Cookie has committed suicide, she wants to go to heaven and see her husband, be united with the man she loves, although her feelings for Willis are love, but as friends. Willis and Cookie have a score sheet where they keep track of each other’s faulting and that I found to be very funny. Cookie leaves a suicide note next to her bed, a little while later, when Willis is not home, Camille comes in to pick up a fruit bowl from her aunt Cookie, only as she goes upstairs to find Cookie she sees her dead body with a gun in her hand. Now Camille, being the schizophrenic psychotic that she is believes that suicide is a disgrace to the family and covers it up, makes the scene look as if someone has murdered Cookie. Willis is accused of this crime because his fingerprints are on the gun, that is only because he was cleaning them the day before.

What follows is an investigation that has it’s funny moments and some misses, the movie was a give away and not such a good comedy, but hey this is just my opinion. Altman should try better next time and strive for greatness, because I am well aware of what he is capable of.


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Copyrighted by Joe "Buscemifan" SoriaŠ 1999.