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Sommersby (1993)

Director:
Jon Amiel

COUNTRY
USA

Genre
Romance/Drama

NORWEGIAN TITLE
Sommersby

RUNNING TIME
113 minutes

Producer:
Arnon Milchan
Steven Reuther

Screenwriter (based on Le Retour de Martin Guerre):
Nicholas Meyer
Sarah Kernochan


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
John "Jack" Sommersby Richard Gere
Laurel Sommersby Jodie Foster
Rob Sommersby Brett Kelley
Orin Meacham Bill Pullman
Judge Barry Conrad Isaacs James Earl Jones
Reverend Powell William Windom -
Esther Clarice Taylor -
Joseph Frankie Faison
Dick Mead R. Lee Ermey
Doc Evans Richard Hamilton -
Lawyer Dawson Maury Chaykin -
Lawyer Webb Ray McKinnon -

 

Review

There's a clever idea serving as the basis for this film: A farmer returns to his village after fighting in the American Civil War and subsequently being imprisoned for desertion, and turns out to be a much better and compassionate husband and townsman than he was before he left. What has made him change? The period elements are well done initially, and the story is told with an agreeable rhythm by director Jon Amiel (later of Copycat and Entrapment). With a big budget and stars Richard Gere and Jodie Foster trying their hand at the 1800s for the first time, there's a lot at stake for Sommersby. And it ultimately shows, because the picture plays it safer and safer as we get closer and closer to the denouement of the mystery. There's a drawn out segment from a courtroom which feels more like the 1993 version of Richard Gere explaining the plot of a period picture than the charged climax it should have been. Gere and Foster are fine in the interpersonal segments and the everyday life in the village, but they cannot help coming off as anachronistic during said trial. It's partly Amiel's fault, of course he strips away the story's edge and pain and replaces it with a docile romance aesthetic. Based on the 1982 French film Le Retour de Martin Guerre, which in turn was based on real events from the 16th century.

Copyright 05.05.2021 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang

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