Cookie's Fortune Movie Review

Quick: Name Robert Altman's last movie.

Nope, it's not Short Cuts. It's not The Player. It was The Gingerbread Man. Before that it was Kansas City. And before that, Ready to Wear. It's been six years since Altman's last decent picture. And he's got a lot to redeem himself for.

Cookie's Fortune goes a long way toward reminding us why we ever card about Altman in the first place. Wryly funny, Cookie is a black comedy about an ancient woman, nicknamed Cookie (Neal), who decides to off herself. When sister Camille (Close) discovers the body, she opts to cover up the suicide, making it look like a robbery of Cookie's precious necklace gone awry. And a web of sometimes-funny and always-silly deceit and duplicity ensues.

As an "Altman picture," Cookie is well outside the lines of his classic oeuvre, sticking to a fairly traditional structure, albeit with a few non-sequiturs (the staging of the play "Salome," namely) that serve mainly to run the clock while the action is going on.

Done wrong, Cookie could have been as bad a film as something like Greedy (greedy heirs fight over will of dying man). Done right, it could have been a reinvention of Pulp Fiction. Cookie's Fortuneis neither, of course, but it's happily closer to the latter than the former.

Kudos to Charles Dutton, who takes his role as Cookie's closest film to excellent heights. Julianne Moore is, of course, underused, but even Liv Tyler failed to annoy me the way she normally does.

Congrats, Robert. You're back.

Moore gets her Cookies.


Cookie's Fortune Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 1999


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