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an attempt at florida film noir , palmetto fails at the most fundamental levels .
it's slow moving , uninvolving , and plain just uninteresting .
harry barber ( woody harrelson ) is an ex-newspaper man , just out of jail after being framed for a crime .
his luck hasn't been the best , but things are looking up when a mysterious woman , rhea malroux ( elisabeth shue ) , approaches him with a proposition .
she wants harry to help her and her stepdaughter , odette ( chloe sevigny ) , pull off a fake kidnapping scheme to get $500 , 000 out of her stingy , but rich , husband felix ( rolf hoppe ) .
at first , all harry is expected to do is provide a threatening voice on the phone , and to collect the money ( of which he gets to keep 10% ) .
but , as the deed is carried out , things are not what they seem , and harry gets caught in the ensuing storm .
palmetto pulls out all the stops to achieve a film noir film , but the effect never quite comes together .
it's got the sultry florida heat , seductive women , and even curvier plot twists , but the whole thing smells of paint-by-numbers .
sure , the right ingredients are there , but the end result is much too artificial .
a lot of the problems lie with the script , which , though providing some genuine surprises , is packed full of leaden dialogue and bland situations .
even the plot twists don't seem to flow well with the rest of the story .
some of them , for example , come from so far afield that they seemingly only make sense because the writer needed a twist ( for example : harry's spontaneous job offer , or the whole typewriter situation ) .
the characters are mostly lifeless , played to type , but not much more .
woody harrelson plays harry with such imbecilic thick-headedness that it's hard to even picture him as an ex-journalist .
elisabeth shue vamps it up , but doesn't add anything special to the role .
chloe sevigny gives a terrible performance , trying to be a sexy 17-year old , but she just leaves a bad taste in your mouth .
some of the supporting cast ( notably gina gershon and michael rapaport ) give stronger , but , in the end , meaningless performances .
and to top it off , the pacing of the film is much too slow .
as the movie grinds to a halt , you're given too much time to wonder why you're wasting it watching palmetto .
if you're in the mood for this type of movie , you'd be much better off going out and renting some classic film noir .
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