The Gingerbread Man (1998)
Review Date: June 13, 1999
Director: Robert Altman
Writer: Al Hayes (aka Robert Altman)
Producers: Jeremy Tannenbaum
Kenneth Branagh as Rick Magruder
Robert Duvall as Dixon Doss
Philandering hotshot Southern lawyer takes on a simple case of a father stalking/harassing his daughter (whom said lawyer is sleeping with), and succeeds in getting the man put away. Unfortunately for all involved, the nutty father escapes and begins to make the lives of his daughter, the lawyer and his family a living nightmare. His band of religious hillbilly followers help him along his twisted path.
Picking up steam like a snowball barreling down a mountainside, this film starts off looking like your basic Southern Grisham "lawyer flick", but slowly crafts itself into a tension-filled thriller, with interesting characters, some relevant and unique stylings via the watchful eye of veteran director Robert Altman, and many stormy scenes succinctly paralleling the film's own brewing tension. Understand that this film is not your everyday thriller, and does take some time to get going, but I personally found the setting, the players, and Bobby Duvall's nutty character interesting enough to keep me tuned into its two-hour stretch. I will admit that I saw the film's "twist" coming up 5th Avenue from frame one, but nonetheless, a couple of curve balls managed to keep me in the game. Downey Jr. also plays a pretty neat supporting jokester, and Branagh drops his British accent for a near-perfect Southern drawl. All in all, this film's got great atmosphere, strong performances, interesting characters, nice style, despite the predictable but enjoyable plot line. Check it out on video, and bring an umbrella...you'll need it.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian