Based solely on Gene Hackman's sterling interpretation of the prisoner on death-row, crotchety, clever, and cruel Sam Cayhall. It's 2021 and I just viewed this excellent movie for the first time. It's a melancholic reminder that:
1. Gene Hackman is one of finest actors to come out of Hollywood in over a half-century.
2. The art of filmmaking - in its entirety - from casting to final editing has Not Improved by one iota since the 80's and 90's. Crafting a decent STORY on film seems to be a dying art.
3. For reasons unbeknownst to me, perfectly wonderful, well crafted, well acted, well everything movies will get panned and sent to the home-video graveyard.
I suspect that it is because, as in this movie, there weren't enough car chases and exploding automobiles or gratuitous, moaning sex scenes between the cast's prettiest characters.
That's a damn shame.
Because 'The Chamber' is a story rich in drama, tension, family shame, political and historical shame, and a very life-like, gritty, form of redemption and resolution. I recommend you watch this movie just to see what a seasoned craftsman, Hackman, can do with a character. Brad Pitt doesn't deserve to shine his shoes.
Even Faye Dunway wasn't bad, although she was destroyed by many critics for her role as Lee Cayhall, the alcoholic daughter.... it's just that the weight of the pain and torment of this character was more than Ms. Dunway could fulfill. But still, she wasn't near as bad as some criticism says.
And Chris O'Donnell was truly exceptional as the bright-eyed young lawyer with his Lancet forward, galloping forward on his white steed to reclaim justice and mercy from the bloated, political justice system. O'Donnell should have acted more in his career. He's worthy of the title, "Actor". Unless you absolutely despise 'Law Movies' and intense dramas, I strongly suggest that you catch this hidden gem.
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