Thursday, January 18, 2007

Film Review: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a courtroom drama/murder mystery that works well as a portrait of a very unique Southern town.

The film also deals with issues of sexual orientation and new vs old money (as in earned vs inherited wealth) and the prejudices that lie wherein but it seems to lack direction. The film seems unsure of whether it wants to be a sophisticated courtroom drama or whether it wants its courtroom drama to not even be the main story at all. The voodoo scenes in particular seemed sloppily tacked on and the script oscillated in a disorienting way between making this a story through the eyes of and centered around John Cusack or Kevin Spacey’s story.

Despite not knowing where it’s going, however, the film is thoroughly watchable and engaging until the end (when you're left with that aftertaste of "where was this going?"). Kevin Spacey’s effusive charisma makes an interesting character that much more complex and the film is populated by interesting characters: a drag queen who wants to use testifying in court as an opportunity to promote herself, or a guy who walks an imaginary dog. There’s an interesting woman who walks into John Cusack’s room at the beginning of the story but by film’s end she just turns into a boring old love interest. A love of place is very apparent and visible in Eastwood’s portrait of Savannah as a town that somehow finds room to fit the most antiquated of Southern traditions in their modern day-to-day lives and in some cases, very very modern lives.

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