The Gingerbread Man

Coattails flapping in the Savannah gales, defense attorney Kenneth Branagh gets the runaround of his career when he comes to the aid of Embeth Davidtz. Her father (Robert Duvall) seems to be some kind of quasi-psychotic nuisance, and Branagh decides to help Davidtz get a judge to put dad away so the two won't have to worry about finding a murdered pet every time they spend the night together. Duvall's one asset—an out-of-the-way tract of land he inhabits with a bunch of his cronies—is presumed to be of no value, and the legal proceedings go smoothly, despite the misgivings of Branagh's partner (Daryl Hannah), who points out that Branagh barely knows Davidtz. But Hannah may have ulterior motives for being suspicious—Branagh is so charismatic, having drunkenly propositioned her and all. The lesson of this barely stylish crime thriller is that a dull story is not improved by withholding information about characters' motives from the audience as long as possible. Directed by Robert Altman from a screenplay credited to Al Hayes, based on a story by John Grisham. With Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Berenger (1998).

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