The Chamber

The usual John Grisham legal hokum, tranformed by director James Foley into surprisingly grim and affecting stuff. Callow Chicago-based lawyer Adam Hall (Chris O'Donnell) is the grandson of unrepentant racist and anti-Semite Sam Cayhall (Gene Hackman), who -- after years of stays of execution -- is scheduled to die for his part in a 1967 Mississippi bombing...read more

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The usual John Grisham legal hokum, tranformed by director James Foley into surprisingly grim and affecting stuff. Callow Chicago-based lawyer Adam Hall (Chris O'Donnell) is the grandson of unrepentant racist and anti-Semite Sam Cayhall (Gene Hackman), who -- after

years of stays of execution -- is scheduled to die for his part in a 1967 Mississippi bombing that killed two small children. Hall goes back down South to handle his grandpa's final appeals, and in the process stirs up a hornet's nest of secrets long buried, but far from dead. If you've seen the

sensationalistic A TIME TO KILL, this will feel deeply familiar: the Klan, racist conspiracies, an apparently open-and-shut capital murder case with unexpected depth, violence against children, a young lawyer in over his head. But rather than opting for sleazy theatrics, Foley turns the story

inward and painstakingly evokes a landscape of lives stunted and warped by guilt, hatred and self-recrimination. Hackman gives an unsentimental performance as the hateful Cayhall, and Faye Dunaway is alarming as his alcoholic daughter. Proximity to Hackman occasionally drags weak-link O'Donnell

into the vicinity of his betters.

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: R
  • Review: The usual John Grisham legal hokum, tranformed by director James Foley into surprisingly grim and affecting stuff. Callow Chicago-based lawyer Adam Hall (Chris O'Donnell) is the grandson of unrepentant racist and anti-Semite Sam Cayhall (Gene Hackman), who… (more)

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