In its running time of 153 minutes, I'm sure there is a fairly decent
movie contained within 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil'. The
problem is that it has so many plodding scenes of irrelevancy that it makes
it difficult to appreciate the film fully. Beginning in Savannah, Georgia
in 1981, it looks at southern culture, not stereotypes as some may think and
has a broad range of characters like the title suggests. Some good, some
evil and some whose intentions remain unclear by the end of the film. It
makes no secret of the fact that at its core it is not just a morality tale
but first and above all else it is a character study.
John Berendt's novel is now a big screen motion picture directed by the
of drawn out film making, Clint Eastwood. Don't misunderstand, I love
Eastwood as much as the next person but in almost every one of his films
where he serves as director, there is a need to tighten up his film's
midsection badly. It looks as if Eastwood feels it is necessary to show an
audience every single frame of his films and doesn't know what to leave on
the cutting room floor.
John Cusack is a writer for a New York City magazine who travels to
Savannah to write an article on the town's high society while attending a
party held by a dapper southern gentleman (Kevin Spacey). He mingles, mixes
and observes the people in their genuine surroundings in perfect fashion and
comes to the conclusion that he will write a book instead. He comes to this
conclusion after leaving the party and heading back to the scene later when
police and emergency vehicles surround Spacey's mansion and question the
party's host about the shooting of a man with whom Spacey has had an
unsuccessful confrontation about personal affairs.
Involved in Cusack's life before, during and after the murder trail
are a young southern belle played by Alison Eastwood (Clint's daughter), the
town's transvestite (Lady Chablis) and a symbolic character named Minerva
(the wonderful Irma P. Hall) who is a voodoo worshipper and tries to
foretell spiritual clashes between this world and the next as the film
digests its plot line with an outcome debating whether or not justice was
done while mixing in religious overtones and shades of satire at the same time.
In summing up the film best it would be appropriate to say that it is
slow at times and has many scenes of dialogue not very interesting to the
film's central focus but after seeing the whole thing you'll find that the
film packs a peculiar power despite its shortcomings. I'm just not sure you
would want to sit through it a second time.
Copyright © 1997 Walter Frith