Picking Up the Pieces [2000]

Woody Allen stars in Picking Up the Pieces, playing a butcher named Tex who cuts up his adulterous wife (played by Sharon Stone) in a jealous rage. On his way to bury the pieces, he loses her hand on the side of the road, where it's found by a blind woman--and miraculously gives her back her sight. Before long, the hand has become a religious relic, drawing huge crowds to the small town of El Nino, New Mexico, and testing the faithlessness of a straying priest (David Schwimmer), who's in love with the town's leading prostitute (Maria Gracia Cucinotta, from Il Postino). Add to this a corrupt mayor (Cheech Marin), a lawman named Bobo (Kiefer Sutherland), who's committed to getting Tex behind bars, a trio of investigators from the Vatican (Elliott Gould, Andy Dick, and Fran Drescher), and you've got... well, it's hard to say what. Director Alfonso Arau previously made the wonderful Like Water for Chocolate, and although Picking Up the Pieces has a similar magical-realism flavor, it doesn't quite come together. The movie does have a genial, raffish atmosphere and a bizarre cast, all of whom are having a good time. Arau himself plays a small role with great charm. --Bret Fetzer

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