The Chamber

Another John Grisham adaptation (1996). this one written by William Goldman and Chris Reese and directed by the often interesting James Foley. This time, alas, Foley hits a substantial roadblockmaterial so bereft of plot and insight that all it can provide is actorly turns with no cogent means for tying them together. Chris O’Donnell plays a lawyer who’s trying to get a stay of execution for his grandfather (Gene Hackman), a convicted racist killer. The best turns come from Faye Dunaway as O’Donnell’s alcoholic aunt and Millie Perkins in a smaller part as the widow whose husband and twin boys were killed by Hackman’s bomb; Hackman does the best he can with a character that seems to be constructed out of loose ends. I spent a lot of time waiting in vain for a revelation that would justify the movie’s slow buildup. With Lela Rochon, Robert Prosky, Raymond Barry, David Marshall Grant, Bo Jackson, and Josef Sommer. (JR)

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