Not much has changed with Hollywood Oscar Season dribble. Much of it being “pull at your heart strings” cinema ripe for people like Ron Howard to have his way with you, (and in 2001 he did with A Beautiful Mind). Frank Darabont’s The Green Mile is not necessarily a wholly bad film. What is, however, is a lesser Stephen King prison film to a greater Stephen King prison film Darabont made five years prior, The Shawshank Redemption.
But what is the difference between the two, truly? In my honest opinion The Shawshank Redemption had enough substance to overlook the fact it lack much of any film style. This is where The Green Mile strikes issues. Is it a look on interracial relations? Confrontations with the death penalty? Issues of life and death and spiritualism? It can’t hone its premises. It breaks itself up into multi-faceted purposes tying the little knots as the go along however we never feel quite satisfied. The Shawshank Redemption had this, granted, but the main purpose remained was “hope”. Here the central premise sits alone at the end of the cell block and it seems we hardly get to know it, (I’m speaking of the John Coffey character).
Now here is my biggest gripe, I just got done watching The Conversation (1974) by Francis Ford Coppola. Wonderful film. I bring this up to distinguish a great film from good films. A great film has a solid premise, (solid substance), with “directorialship”, (solid style). It boils everything down on screen to a point where every relationship to what is being seen and heard on screen, everything has artistic purpose. Style there for has just as much substance as the screenplay itself. The Green Mile in my opinion has neither.
The Green Mile takes a bunch of pretty shots and adds them together, but they don’t mean anything at the end of the day. True style is like the periods at the end of a cinematic sentence. It ends the visual debate. Neither in this film did I feel a debate going on, (because it couldn’t make up it’s mind what is was about to begin with), and artistically speaking it’s assembled without much thought.
At the end of the day it’s not a bad film, but it’s not a wholly good one either. It’s just a Shankshank response in the Oscar Season that got blown by again.