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synopsis : two con artists find the perfect patsy in harry ( woody harrelson ) - - an inept former journalist who trips and bumps his head into a post , tries to slap a girl and gets poked in the eye , has ill-timed fits of coughing , and fails at everything he does .
the story is told from harry's point of view .
harry always carries around a shot of whiskey although he swears he doesn't drink .
one day harry is approached by the con girl rhea ( elisabeth shue ) , who is similar to harry in that she carries around a cigarette but swears she doesn't smoke .
seduced , harry agrees to participate in a money-making scheme involving faking the kidnapping of odette ( chloe sevigny ) , the teenage daughter of a rich man .
turns out , it's all part of a needless , very puzzling , extremely elaborate and convoluted scheme ( it involves hiring special impersonators ) by two cons in order to fool harry , a hero who barely has the intellectual capacity of a wooden post .
when the 'kidnapped' odette is found dead , the clues point to harry as the kidnapper/murderer , and the police are hot on harry's trail .
harry suddenly realizes he has been framed while others have taken the ransom money .
can he get out of this mess ?
opinion : palmetto is a long , uninteresting film with all the wrong feel .
hero harry is an inept bungler who trips up often and consistently overestimates his own intelligence .
this farcical kind of character works best in an entertaining naked gun action comedy or dragnet spoof .
but palmetto is played like a dark , serious , detective noir drama , and watching harry's bumbling confidence amounts to an irritating distraction .
there's a lapse in concentration in the middle of the movie as the camera goes wild on breasts , buttocks , short skirts , colored painted nails , and women's legs .
even when the focus is supposedly on harry and his dilema , you can always notice the side of elizabeth shue's breast forming a prominent foreground .
towards the end , palmetto re-focuses on plot for the grand finale - - a confusing explanation involving impersonators , with woody harrelson handcuffed and suspended over a tub of acid as he hears the criminals' confession .
if you can imagine 'shemp' from the three stooges playing the detective hero of an hbo 'lingerie suspense' thriller , that's how out of synch this movie feels .