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CHAMBER, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Time is running out for Sam Cayhall, (Gene Hackman) the oldest inmate on death row in America, who will die in the gas chamber for the bombing murders of two young children in 1967. Twenty eight days before his impending death, Sam is visited by young lawyer Adam Hall, (Chris O’Donnell) who is adamant on defending Cayhall, who also happens to be his grandfather. Cayhall was brought up, like his father and grandfather before him, as part of the Ku Klux Clan. He now seemingly has no conscience. Or has he? Was he solely responsible for the murders that will take him to his death, or was he misguidedly protecting someone else? For Adam, this case is making him formally confront issues that have secretly confronted him all his life. Can Adam find some evidence that will save his grandfather from the gas chamber, or will the course of justice be hindered by the political aspirations of the ambitious Mississippi governor.

Louise Keller:
"While lacking the action of some of the previous Grisham based films, such as The Firm, The Chamber is driven by strong and moving performances. The leads are top notch. Chris O’Donnell with his clean cut good looks and piercing blue eyes is impressively convincing as the young lawyer trying to come to terms with his background, while endeavouring to save his granddad. Gene Hackman just seems to get better and better. He is mesmerising and haunts as the angry, tortured Sam Cayhall. His gaunt demeanour speaks volumes. He is a man lost, searching for inner peace. Strong supporting cast, headed by Faye Dunaway, who plays Lee, the guilt-ridden daughter who drinks to forget. The terrific performances make up for the flaws: the plot is at times confusing. There are many emotional moments, enhanced by a satisfyingly expressive soundtrack. The serenity and beauty of the music as Sam Cayhall witnesses his first sunrise in 15 years is contrasted by rousing rhythms of anger and pathos. There is a repeated sense of motion - always going forward, despite delving into the past. Our imagination is our most powerful tool; perhaps this should have been made to work a little harder towards the end, when Cayhall enters The Chamber.

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Gene Hackman, as the angry Sam Cayhall


Chris O'Donnell is impressively convincing as Adam Hall


Bo Jackson in his film debut

See Louise Keller's report on the making of The Chamber in Features

CHAMBER (THE) (M)
(US)

 

CAST: Chris O’Donnell, Gene Hackman, Faye Dunaway, Robert Prosky, Raymond Barry, Bo Jackson, Lela Rochon, David Marshall Grant

PRODUCER: John Davis, Bran Grazer, Ron Howard

DIRECTOR: James Foley

SCRIPT: William Goldman, Chris Reese (based on the novel by John Grisham)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ian Baker

EDITOR: Mark Warner

MUSIC: Carter Burwell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Brisbin

RUNNING TIME: 112 mins

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 15, 1997


Lela Rochon as Nora







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