Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the fabulously popular true-life fiction novel is a baggy, flabby affair that fails to truly capture the weirdness and sinister eccentricity of the original. The light is too bright, the situation too contemporary and recognisable, and some of the acting risible.
The story is simple. In 1980s Savannah, not the most hospitable environment for a rich white man to come out of the closet, a young hustler (Jude Law entirely failing to pull off a Southern accent) is murdered in the lavish house of a wealthy art dealer (Kevin Spacey). The resulting court case is covered by an out-of-town journalist (John Cusack). The problem is that he looses all objectivity and is drawn into the gothic world of voo-doo, secrets and a charismatic transvestite called Lady Chablis (playing herself).
The resulting movie doesn't know whether it wants to be a John Grisham style courtroom drama or a voyeuristic look at a bunch of eccentrics. Either way, it is dull, long and bland - something the novel never was. I never fully felt the scandal of tawdry sex invading genteel upper class surroundings. I never had chills running down my spine as we lingered in cemeteries at midnight with a voodoo priestess. The comedy wasn't dark and subversive but gentle and inclusive. A great disappointment.
MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL was released in 1997 and 1998. It is available on iTunes and on DVD.
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