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.
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