Rick Magruder (Branagh) is a lawyer in the deepest south of America. He is a well known and disliked guy, who has busted the state over many legal infringements and got some of the worst off of criminal charges. When he is pulled into the life of Mallory Doss (Davidtz) and her unhealthy relationship with her cult leading father Dixon (Duvall). Magruder wants to go legal on this unstable man but as he does all things start to implode around her. Dixon might be psychotic and trying to kill her or crazed and think he is protecting her. To add to the problems, Mallory has a difficult ex husband Pete (Berenger) who wants nothing to do with the legal case being raised against Dixon. The problem is however is more going on than we all can see?
Robert Altman has the idol worship in film circles, of a demi god. Some think that this is totally wrong and should be corrected, others (like myself) think Altman is one of the few film makers to truly challenge the medium. In The Gingerbread Man you can see tones of this. As a film it is one of his best for visual construction and performance (Bar Branagh who is a magnificent actor but his accent is harsh on the ear.) The Altman use of sound adds little here but the Altman camera crafts spaces of grime and spaces of decay magnificently well. The film is about this, a people living off history and then unable to connect that history with a real sense of being. Decay plays into this like a gothic horror in some scenes….extraordinary indeed.
Altman’s craft also allows the viewer to ask some very probing questions of what it means to be truthful and what is sane. I loved this aspect more than anything else. Its that blocks of suspicious self and unsure self that great film watching experience creates. So it looks good enough on the screen, sounds good enough, slight improvement over its original release DVD. The extras are there as such ans anyway…the film is superb so watch that!