[box cover]

Cotton Mary

Good producers generally make lousy directors. Case in point: Irvin Winkler. As a producer, his track record is very good (Raging Bull, The Right Stuff), but as a director, he's lousy (Guilty By Suspicion, Night and the City) because he's takes interesting material and transforms it into some pretty boring stuff. Producers rarely have a director's eye, and Ismail Merchant (the producer partner of Merchant Ivory productions) would have been better served to let his usual director James Ivory direct 1999's Cotton Mary, but instead he took the helm himself. Then again, perhaps even the gifted Ivory couldn't save this snooze-fest. Cotton Mary (Madhur Jaffrey) is an Anglo-Indian nurse who gets involved with an English family because the mother (Gretta Scacchi) has given birth but cannot nurse the child. Mary takes the baby to her nursemaid sister to gain entry into the family, which includes a philandering husband and a lonely daughter. Essentially The Hand that Rocks the Cradle without a point (or violence either), Cotton Mary sees its titular character integrate herself into an established family and cause a bit of a ruckus. Because Mary's half-Indian half-English, she thinks she belongs with the family, even though the family views her as a servant, and no one ever really respects Mary as much as she thinks she should be. It would be an interesting movie if we actually sympathized with our heroine (or any character, really) but even though we understand her predicament — stuck between two cultures, she wants to join the privileged one — we never invest in her, which makes the 124 minutes running-time insufferably long. Universal's DVD release features a solid anamorphic transfer (1.85:1), with audio in Dolby 2.0 Surround. Trailer, and two "bonus" trailers for Far and Away and Somewhere in Time. Keep-case
—DSH



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