Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

R   |    |  Crime, Drama, Mystery


Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) Poster

A visiting city reporter's assignment suddenly revolves around the murder trial of a local millionaire, whom he befriends.

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6.6/10
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  • John Cusack at an event for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
  • John Cusack and Paul Hipp at an event for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
  • Joan Cusack at an event for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
  • John Cusack and Clint Eastwood in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
  • Kevin Spacey in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
  • Alison Eastwood at an event for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

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5 October 2003 | B24
8
| Why This is Not a Bad Film
Comparing the movie script to the original book is in this case a futile exercise. The two are only superficially related. If Eastwood had made the mistake of trying to film the original account instead of a cinematic version of it, it would indeed have come across as a sort of gay Gone With the Wind on mescaline, and he would have been crucified by critics and viewers alike as a David Lynch wannabe.

As it is, he made a commercially viable replica of the original story into a passably successful movie. But there are flaws. For one thing, as many comments here assert, the thing is just too long. Internal musings by the author -- the common bond that made the novel a smashing success -- are replaced by visual and audible sensations, some of which are too obviously gratuitous to sustain a complicated plot. Characters have been altered, sanitized, simplified, or in some cases magnified to make everything fit proportionally into a screen presentation.

Nevertheless, I think all the viewers who really liked this film are justified in praising it. Savannah society is a unique and interesting creature. Whether you have read the book or not, that much is clear. The fact that most of the story is true and some of the original players reprise various parts in the screenplay is a delight. The music of Johnny Mercer fits well. We can even forgive Clint for casting his daughter in a throwaway role, making Jack Thompson of all people into Sonny Seiler, or wasting Jude Law's talent instead of finding a local actor for that smallish part.

I also think Spacey was exactly right for his part, and Cusack never made the mistake of imitating author Berendt.

Still, I recommend the book as a far superior vehicle for this particular story.

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Genres

Crime | Drama | Mystery | Thriller

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