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The Ghost of Spoon River

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"Based on the Spoon River Anthology," says the copy on the video box. It all depends on what your definition of "based" is. Edgar Lee Masters' influential 1914 series of poems told by the dead in an Illinois graveyard had about as much to do with this slow moving low-budget independent film as did "Moon River" sung by Andy Williams. The Ghost of Spoon River, which was better off with its original title of The Mystery of Spoon River, is well-intended, but it suffers from just about everything a low-budget production by a first-time director could. The story loses coherence every time it starts to make sense; the acting is so arch it can touch its toes backward (particularly veteran Richard Portnow, who snarls through each scene like Snidely Whiplash); and whose bright idea was it to shoot an extended sequence from Emma's (Lauren Sinclair) point of view in her busy office before she's even made her first appearance? Somehow there's a happy ending, but even after watching the last quarter a second time, it's not clear how that happens. Perhaps that's the mystery of Spoon River. It's hard to imagine even the most hard-up thriller fan being entertained by this. Buzz McClain, All Movie Guide