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Laramie Movie Scope: Sommersby

Civil war period mistaken identity drama

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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February 15, 1993 -- ``Sommersby'' is one of those post-Civil War period pieces that used to be popular in Hollywood, but it is no ``Gone With The Wind.''

``Sommersby'' is about a Confederate soldier taken prisoner and thought dead who returns to his home town and a hero's welcome, but is he really Jack Sommersby and if he isn't why does his wife pretend he is?

These and other questions are posed in this intriguing story. The story idea is an interesting one, but it doesn't quite pan out in the end. There are too many unanswered questions and unresolved conflicts.

Richard Gere and Jodie Foster provide plenty of star power, but they aren't given much to do in this stern epic that seems to be more style than substance.

One of the biggest unanswered questions is why a no-good con artist like Sommersby would suddenly become so noble, heroic and unselfish that the film ends like a passion play. Also, given Sommersby's past, why would the townsfolk trust him with all of their money in the first place?

The best part of the film is the courtroom drama near the end with James Earl Jones giving a powerful performance as a judge in Sommersby's murder trial. The ending is disappointing.

The resulting film seems full of missed opportunities. It is not a bad film, but certainly not as good as it should have been given all the money and acting talent it has going for it. It rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)