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Cookie's Fortune

Director: Robert Altman
Writer: Anne Rapp
October Films; PG-13; 118 minutes
Cast: Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler, Chris O'Donnell, Charles S. Dutton

Robert Altman's latest lacks the depth of his finest work but doesn't stray too far from the target. Cookie's Fortune examines the languid town of Holly Springs, Mississippi, although the movie suffers from a Southern drowsiness. Genteel Jewel Orcutt (Patricia Neal) has a live-in black 'handyman' named Willis (Charles S. Dutton). One day she kills herself, leaving behind a bourgeois niece Camille (Glenn Close) determined to hide the suicide from the public's eye by framing Willis. Unfortunately, this film has no interest in looking seriously at race relations in the South or deep-seated family secrets — Altman instead spools into a comedy-melodrama without driving force. For example, the entire town is convinced of Willis' innocence; his jail cell isn't locked. Altman has assembled a fine cast, and his social scope is better than most, but in the end Cookie's Fortune tastes a bit stale.

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