CINEMA: A Joint Enterprise

Updating the prison genre in a deft, well-played tale of revenge

Revenge is a dish best served cold. And as coolers go, it's hard to think of anyplace more chilling than Shawshank, the fictional state reformatory to which Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to serve two consecutive life terms for murdering his wife and her lover.

Its architectural style is Victorian Gothic, its penology just plain gothic. Or maybe Visigothic. It is a place designed not to reform but to drive you crazy. Cool is what you need to survive here, and supercool is what you need to maintain a semblance of humanity. Andy, who insists he has been wrongly convicted,...