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At Theaters: 4/16/1999 On Video: 9/14/1999
Rated: PG-13 Length: 1 hr. 58 min.
Internet: None Found Movie ID: 049917
Studio: October Films
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Storyline Heading

In the upstairs master bedroom, surrounded by the decaying grandeur of her ante-bellum manor, Jewel Mae "Cookie" Orcutt is discovered - "murdered" - by her estranged nieces, Camille Dixon and Cora Duvall. What ensues is an unconventional investigation into the crime, involving one of cinema's most colorful pastiche of characters.

Movie Type (Genre) Heading
Drama - Cookie's Fortune is a slow-paced ensemble comedy from director Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, The Player). Fans of Altman's previous films will probably enjoy it most, as will those who like atmospheric comedies that don't necessarily feature raucous sight gags. Younger viewers in particular may find the film far too slow; other viewers might feel too distanced from the film's setting in the American South. The strongest appeal will be for viewers who prefer their amusement with a bit more character development.
Cast and Crew Heading
Glenn Close (Air Force One)
Julianne Moore (Psycho)
Liv Tyler (Armageddon)
Chris O'Donnell (Batman and Robin)
Charles S. Dutton (Nick of Time)
Patricia Neal (An Unremarkable Life)
Director: Robert Altman (Pret-A-Porter/Ready To Wear)
Production Notes Heading
About The Production
Content Heading
PROFANITY: Moderately strong and moderately frequent
SEX/NUDITY: Suggestive sexual content
VIOLENCE: One suicide with some bloodshed
DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Lots of alcohol consumption
ACTION: No action content
COMEDY: Lots of quirky, character-based humor

Pictures © October Films ®
All Rights Reserved.

Critic's Review Heading
Very Good
COOKIE'S FORTUNE is the kind of unconventional narrative of lingering takes that may leave some viewers shifting in their seats waiting for the point of it all. For Altman, in this particular case, taking the time to get to the point is actually part of the point. It's a comedy of details dropped in almost off-handedly, and others -- a hand literally caught in the cookie jar, for instance -- underlined at just the right moment. It doesn't add up to all that much either as character study or as crime drama, nor does it take the straightest path between any two points. It's merely a lazy, crazy, consistently amusing diversion about a place where you only know the true measure of a man (or a woman) after you've gone fishing together. It's a place Altman might consider visiting more often.

Opinion Heading

Based on an Exit Polling of 132 Moviegoers

Ages Age Group
Your Probability of
Enjoying This Movie
Movie To Friends
13-19Teens (M/F)
Fairly High
20-29Yg Adults (F)
About 50/50
30+Adults (M)
30+Adults (F)
Fairly High
*Possible Ratings: Very High, High, Fairly High, About 50/50, Fairly Low, Low, Very Low.

About Our Opinions

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The legacy of Jewel Mae "Cookie" Orcutt (Patricia Neal), an eccentric matriarch, whose tattered ante-bellum home in Holly Springs, Mississippi, is adorned with the trappings and relics of her deceased husband, the beloved gambler and bon vivant, Buck. Flouting convention, Cookie shares the manor with the easy and loyal Willis Richland (Charles S. Dutton), a middle-aged black man with a penchant for catfish enchiladas, Wild Turkey bourbon and Theo's Bar, a bluesy jukejoint owned by Theg (Rufus Thomas), but dominated by the voluptuous singer, Josie (Ruby Wilson).

Cookie's two estranged nieces - the imperious Camille Dixon (Glenn Close), a self-appointed aesthete of letters and theatre; and her pliantly obedient younger sister, Cora Duvall (Julianne Moore), who seems little more than a ventriliquist's puppet to the grandiose Camille - live across town in what Camille must find a frustratingly modest home. Camille deplores Cookie's indifference to social status; and Cookie simply can't tolerate Camille's pretensions.

Cookie's one cherished relative, Cora's daughter Emma Duvall (Liv Tyler), has just repatriated to Holly Springs from a failed adventure in Biloxi. A guileless rebel and deadbeat of 234 parking tickets (a Holly Springs record), Emma is an object of desire for local catfish supplier Manny (Lyle Lovett), and the crazy love of Jason (Chris O'Donnell), an earnest if somewhat inept sherriffs deputy. Emma shares with Willis an affection for Cookie and Wild Turkey; and both passions have earned Camille's profound disapproval.

As the town's impresario, Camille has cast Holly Springs' most colorful locals in her selection for the Easter pageant play - a reworking of Oscar Wilde's florid play, Salome. Among the principal players are the town's dignified (and only) lawyer, Jack Palmer (Donald Moffat) as Herod; jovial liquor store owner Patrick Freeman (Randle Mell), as a hammy, Cro-Magnon portrait of John the Baptist; and CORA as Salome, directed so relentlessly by Camille that Cora's daily language becomes peppered with Biblical phrases.

On the day before Easter, even though late to her own dress rehearsal, Camille rushes into Cookie's home to collect a cut-glass fruit bowl - an heirloom whose ownership is the subject of a family dispute. After venturing upstairs in the seemingly empty house, she makes a grisly discovery: Cookie, dead through some "misadventure". But "murder" investigations invent a life of their own, and this one casts Willis as the most likely suspect, the ubiquitous Palmer as his all-knowing lawyer, and fishing mate and friend Lester Boyle (Ned Beatty) as the reluctant police lieutenant. It also triggers the invasion of two criminologists from the neighboring town of Batesville - a zealous forensics expert (Matt Malloy), and the suave investigator Otis Tucker (Courtney B. Vance).

From Willis' jailcell (where Emma bivouacs as a self-avowed con), to Josie's sensual lair at Theo's, to Cookie's manor (stripped of its police tape by squatters Camille and Cora) -Tucker will encounter the liveliest un-murder mystery of his career. This surprising and often darkly comedic inquisition will unearth family secrets, unmask small-town loyalties and rivalries, and unravel the fate of Cookie's fortune.

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