Cookie's Fortune (1999)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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The ingredients of an archetypal southern town (the blues, catfish, and scrabble), a deliciously chosen cast, and the creative skills of Robert Altman make for a wonderfully engaging film that adds to the accolades that have distinguished his outstanding career. Delectably combining farce, moral passion play, and social drama with a soupcon of mystery/suspense, Altman drives us to his grandly executed finale with a constantly inventive comedic theatricality. Generations of the Orcutt family have inhabited the sleepy Mississippi town of Holly Springs. Headed by the aging Jewel Mae (Pat Neal), and composed of her two nieces, the domineering Camille (Glenn Close) and the somewhat-mindless Cora (Julianne Moore), and Cora's rebellious daughter (Liv Tyler), only recently returned home, the family is a fairly dysfunctional lot. The nieces basically ignore their aunt, and the mother and daughter avoid speaking to each other. Jewel is watched over by her middle-aged black caretaker (Charles Dutton), but she misses her recently departed husband, Buck, and contemplates joining him in the hereafter. When Jewel finally decides to pull the trigger, Camille stumbles into the situation and plots a coverup that rapidly spins out of control. Close is near perfect as the singleminded southern dame who brooks no interference with her willful desires, whether she's directing the town's Easter play, Salome, or pushing her way through police tape. The police chief and deputies, out-of-town investigators, and a stately patrician lawyer are the final touches in an exuberant allegory that is simultaneously touching, contemporary, and delightfully cathartic.
PG-13 (for the depiction of a violent act and sensuality)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
October Film


Glenn Close
as Camille Dixon
Julianne Moore
as Cora Duvall
Liv Tyler
as Emma Duvall
Chris O'Donnell
as Jason Brown
Charles S. Dutton
as Willis Richland
Patricia Neal
as Jewel Mae `Cookie' Orcutt
Ned Beatty
as Lester Boyle
Courtney B. Vance
as Otis Tucker
Donald Moffat
as Jack Palmer
Lyle Lovett
as Manny Hood
Josie Martin
as Ruby Wilson
Danny Darst
as Billy Cox
Matt Malloy
as Eddie `The Expert' Pitts
Randle Mell
as Patrick Freeman
Ruby L. Wilson
as Josie Martin
Niecy Nash
as Wanda Carter
Rufus Thomas
as Theo Johnson
Ruby Wilson
as Josie Martin
Preston Strobel
as Ronnie Freeman
Ann Whitfield
as Mrs. Henderson, Herodias
Hank Worsham
as Tigellinus
Kenny Pillow
as Soldier No. 1
Derek Guyer
as Soldier No. 2
Emily Sindelar
as Marlene
Heath Lail
as Prop Boy
Shari Schneider
as Mrs.Tippett
John M. Sullivan II
as Mr. Tippett
Red West
as Mr. Henderson
Ferguson Reid
as Deputy
Chris Coulson
as Deputy
Cheryl Cole
as Picnic Lady
Fred Sanders
as Guitarist
Jimmy Ellis
as Drummer
Solomon McDaniel
as Keyboardist
Terris Tate
as Bass Guitarist
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Critic Reviews for Cookie's Fortune

All Critics (56) | Top Critics (13)

Most of what transpires is low-key, affectionate comedy and a fair amount of fun.

Full Review… | July 21, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Cookie's Fortune is a wittily diagrammed portrait of a small town shaken to its roots by this deceptive calamity. The movie, though, never really becomes more than a diagram.

Full Review… | July 7, 2010
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

The deceptively modest Cookie's Fortune may or not be Robert Altman's best film in years, but it is certainly his most pleasurable.

Full Review… | December 31, 2008
Top Critic

What's so distinctively charming is the easygoing tone, which manages to turn black comedy into a strangely gentle, touching and delicate affair.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Altman's digressive, shaggy-dog style turns out to be well-suited to Southern Gothic.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Top Critic

One well-telegraphed disclosure is heartwarmingly self-congratulatory, the other genealogical bombshell totally inconsequential.

December 31, 1999
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Cookie's Fortune


Nothing amazing but a solid small town dramedy/mystery that's well acted and amusing. I haven't seen most of Altman's work before but this seems very much his style from what I've seen.

Sunil Jawahir
Sunil Jawahir

Super Reviewer


"Cookie's Fortune" is a sharp, dazzling dark comedy from Robert Altman. Anne Rapp's screenplay both captures the essence of small town life and character as well as satirizes it. The 'murder' mystery centerpiece is clever, funny and unique. Punctuated by a fantastic ensemble, featuring memorable turns from Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Chris O'Donnell, Charles S. Dutton, Liv Tyler and Patricia Neal. "Cookie's Fortune" perfectly captures Altman's comedic sensibilities and knack for crafting wonderfully funny and true characters.

Steven Carrier
Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer


This isn't Altman's best, but having said that Altman is also easily one of my favourite directors - so even when he is not at his best, he never fails to entertain. And entertaining this is, a quirky, very Southern comedy with endearing characters. Julianne Moore is hilarious as the slightly loopy sister, Glenn Close is simply superb in her over-the-top performance. Unfortunately, Liv Tyler is almost equally as bad as the others are great. The story sometimes is not as smooth as it could be, but the eccentric characters and the atmosphere of a small Southern town is what makes this a great and fun film.

Ina S
Ina S

Super Reviewer

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