Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 15, 2010
What should have been a routine assignment turns into a murder mystery when a Yankee journalist is sent to Savannah to cover a lavish party in this, Clint Eastwood's Southern Gothic thriller based on a bestselling nonfiction work.

The film is a mixture of Southern Hospitality and charm with murder, intrigue, and a touch of the supernatural. The film has a very dreamy and surreal atmosphere, and it has some wonderfully colorful supporting characters.

Jon Cusack is our reporter, Kevin Spacey is the party host/main suspect, and the two are quite good, SPacey moreso than Cusack. We also get Irma P. Hall as a voodoo woman, Alison Eastwood as a love interest for Cusack (added in for the film), a brief appearance by Jude Law as a scuzzball, and Lady Chablis, a noted drag performer, as herself.

The film has a meditative, dream-like vibe that really draws you in. The performances are solid, but the film primarily works because of the atmosphere. It also plays the Gay Card, so it gets some social commentary points, and the role of violence and its consequences is a long running theme in Eastwood's work.

The only real issues are the film's lengthy running time, slow pace, and the fact that the colorful side characters are the most interesting part, but don't really have much bearing on the film's story, and are mainly there to spice things up.

Despite its flaws, I enjoyed the film. It's an odd mix, and it is uneven, but it makes for a unique fish out of water experience, so I say give it a watch, even though once is probably enough.
Clintus M.
Super Reviewer
½ October 11, 2012
Ambiance takes center stage in this most unusual murder mystery starring the quirky citizens of Savannah, GA. The story centers on a northern reporter, John Cusack's character, a southern self-made man/art collector, Kevin Spacey's character, and a murder trial. What is the truth regarding the murder? I really didn't care. This reminds me of Hitchcock's "MacGuffins," something important to the characters in the film but not the audience. Savannah's charm and eccentricities are the draw of the film, and director Clint Eastwood displays them proudly.

There are aspects of the film I like and some I don't. I enjoyed the addition of UGA, the Georgia mascot, but I didn't buy the voodoo woman Minerva much. I liked Alison Eastwood; I'd like to see her in more roles. Lady Chablis steals the show; she's over the top fantastic. Southerners in general were too exaggerated though, particularly the Luther Driggers character with the flies. Eccentricities are one thing, don't get ridiculous. Overall though, its fun watching the "old south" being dragged into the present, and the film definitely made me want to experience Savannah for myself.
Super Reviewer
April 1, 2006
11/21/11 update: Just saw this again after about two or three years. Clint Eastwood is a multi-tasking god. I have a friend who has a couple of high-school aged daughters. It's not that the daughters are slackers; the oldest one is the valedictorian of her class. What bothers my friend is that the kids are always boasting about how good they are at multi-tasking -- it's reportedly one of the greatest talents of their generation. My friend constantly rolls her eyeballs when these boasts are set forward, because she would like for them to understand that multi-tasking means more than doing lots of things at once. She wants them to know that it means doing lots of things at once well -- completely. Not doing a bunch of things in a half-baked manner. This generation does do lots of things simultaneously, but they tend to do them not in the way of renaissance "men," but in the way of, say, renai "men." Half-way. Along the lines of a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. This is definitely not Clint Eastwood's problem. You can throw him two-dozen balls, and he'll keep them all in the air. Piece of cake. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is an example of Eastwood at the height of his multiple powers. And hey, here are words to live by from Lady Chablis: Like my mama always used to say, "Two peas in a bucket, mother-f--k-it." What a find she was : ) * * * * *Original comments, way back when: It begins with a soundtrack: All Johnny Mercer, all the time. We know Eastwood has an ear for music. BIRD is a good example of his tastes. This soundtrack is phenomenal. k.d. lang's "Skylark" haunts me; I hear it in my head from out of nowhere when I least expect it.

To say the reaction to this movie was "mixed" is generous. If it was truly mixed, I think there would have been a few more critics making a few more positive comments. Clintwood was called self-indulgent for meandering around with the direction of this movie. You can call it meandering; I'll call it . . . jazz. Cusack delivers a tour de force performance. Spacey is equally good. That death scene with Jude Law, facing each other on the floor, and that smile Law gives Spacey--it gives me goosebumps just typing about it. The acting of Eastwood's daughter. Okay, so this isn't big on FX, lacks thrilling stunts and car chases, and maybe moves very slowly, very methodically, very thoughtfully, at times. But this true story is compellingly condensed, not butchered--just think, if Eastwood had stuck even more closely to this excellent book, the movie could have gone on for three or four more hours. Chop-jobs of books is what I fear we may see trending with the HARRY POTTER series--although that's way too harsh of me to say. All these wonderfully quirky Savannah characters so beautifully played--or discovered: The Lady Chablis! That fine detail, so artistically appropriate, of the one painting covered up by the second painting. Layer upon layer . . . Yes, flixsters, I think that's it: I'm calling this a masterful Clint Eastwood jazz performance.
Super Reviewer
½ October 2, 2011
Jim Williams: Sport, truth, like art, is in the eye of the beholder. You believe what you choose and I'll believe what I know. 

"Welcome to Savannah, Georgia. A City Of Hot Nights And Cold Blooded Murder."

Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil is probably in the bottom half of Eastwood's directorial efforts. But i still really like it. I'm probably overrating it, because it does have a lot of problems, but I just really liked it for it's unconventionality. It's a strange, almost surreal movie; full of weird relationships that make no sense, voodoo, murder and a bunch of southern accents. It's slow moving and I loved it for that. It pretty much hypnotized me. Nothing about it is all that exciting, but it's a joy too watch.

Even with how much I like this film; I won't say it's a great film. It has a lot of problems. The story runs together and it kind of makes it feel like a mess; but a mesmerizing mess at that. If you don't like slow moving, not a lot of action, long movies, stay away because this is not for you. Also, at times the strangeness of some of the characters makes the movie come off as overly silly, which is weird to see from a Clint Eastwood directed film. 

I can overlook all of its problems though because Eastwood still manages to make it captivating. The story is extremely interesting and seeing this movie makes me really want to read the book. The best part of this movie is the two leads, John Cusack and Kevin Spacey. I am a huge fan of both and it was a lot of fun watching them onscreen together. Also, Jude Law has a very minor supporting role, which he still amazing in. If you're thinking of watching this movie only because of the presence of Law, though, I wouldn't bother. He might have about 5 minutes of screen time in the whole film. 

This is one of those movies that is very polarizing. It's going to split people on whether they can enjoy it or not. It reminds me a lot of Eastwood's Hereafter in that regards. Both are extremely slow and have no real feeling of a beginning, middle or end. But I still enjoyed them both. I know a lot of people who hated them both too. Eastwood has obviously done much better things than this and that's part of the reason I'm not rating it even higher. With all that talent that is involved in this film; it should have been even better. Even though I did like it; the expectations of how good it should be did make it slightly disappointing.
Super Reviewer
½ November 29, 2010
A fine achievement, for three reasons. First, the extraordinary atmosphere which Eastwood succeeds in conjuring, especially at the opening and in the graveyard scenes - eerie threat in the midst of sunlit affluence. Second, Spacey's performance, top class as always, subtle and stylish - has he ever disappointed (all right, Working Girl)? Third, the dazzling presence of Lady Chablis, playing him/herself. Next to these, the flaws - length, awkward narrative structure, Cusack's sleepwalking performance, pointless scenes which fizzle out - seem relatively unimportant.
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2010
It was an interesting movie with a good cast, but it wasn't a particularly amazing bit of film-making. It's easily Clint Eastwood's most unimaginative and bland directing jobs. If it were not for the story, it would have been a worthless movie.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2010
Disappointingly terrible. Cusack continues to prove he's a one-note actor who's benefited from good material. "Midnight" has no charm, is bafflingly paced and never bothers to try to engage the viewer.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
February 27, 2009
John Kelso (John Cusack) comes from New York to write an article on the party for Town and Country magazine, but gets sucked into hanging around when Jim is put on trial for murder. Everythings odd and everyone's eccentric in Savannah: a man walks an invisible dog, an old voodoo woman skulks around, talking to squirrels, and then there's the drag queen. One night, John is awakened by a beautiful blonde woman who drags him off to an eccentric party. The next night he attends Jim's party and there's more eccentrics, including Jim's handyman (Jude Law) whom Jim winds up killing later in the evening, in what appears to be self-defense. John calls his publicist, telling him "this place is like 'Gone With The Wind' on mescaline" and "New York is boring!". Which brings us to Lady Chablis, a real life transvestite performer cast in this movie to play a transvestite performer. Of course she's great and dominates the film when she's onscreen, but in a movie that's nearly 3 hours, her scenes feel absolutely unnecessary and contribute nothing other than a plot contrivance later in the film. Likewise the blonde and her moustached companion. I kept expecting there to be some twist where it was revealed they were the actual murderers or conspirators, but it seems their appearance in this film was equally pointless. By the end of the movie, the trial starts to get just plain silly, and the voodoo ending came off like an old episode of "tales from the crypt". And Jude Law fails to pull off a convincing southern accent, just so you know. Overall, a sloppy movie that ends up kind of nonsensical.
Super Reviewer
May 13, 2007
Inexcusably boring for such a talented bunch of people.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2007
Super Reviewer
February 26, 2007
This flick had a mood about it that I liked. Plus John Cusack is good in everything he pops up in.
Super Reviewer
½ February 15, 2007
A good movie, but the book was so much better. I love Savannah, GA!
Super Reviewer
½ October 23, 2006
If you ever wanted to see a movie drawn and quartered, see this movie.
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2011
As a big fan of the novel I was let down by the film (trying to make John Berendt a character involved with rather than an observer in all that takes place was a major miscalculation) but even disregarding that I've read the novel doesn't make for any major improvements, its still boring as hell. Kevin Spacey is great and casting Lady Chablis as herself works better than you'd think but they can't make it engaging.
Super Reviewer
October 29, 2006
I really don't think this film is as horrible as a lot of people make it out to be, but it's definitely far from being perfect. It is pretty sloppy stuff, both in terms of Eastwood's direction and the endless screenplay. It never seems to find its focus, and its constant shifts in tone are confusing and eventually frustrating. It did, however, keep my attention for the most part and I was able to enjoy certain aspects despite all of its flaws. The always-brilliant Kevin Spacey turns in another performance that flaunts his ability, and John Cusack's acting is strong as well. A not-yet-famous Jude Law also makes a big impact in his limited screen time.
Super Reviewer
½ April 26, 2006
This movie was incredibly ... uhm ... average. John Cusack is not his normal self here.
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2008
Could have been so much better but still compelling and entertaining. Beautifully shot.
Super Reviewer
May 28, 2010
Not bad. Cusack and Spacey had some funny lines throughout, but the movie was kinda slow-moving. My favorite character was Lady Chablis - hilarious!
Super Reviewer
November 14, 2007
John Cusack (yet again) plays a failed writer involved in a murder that nobody seems to care about, including the defendant, and therefore including me. We're introduced to lots of oddball characters, none of whom make any difference to the film. It chucks in some voodoo, plays the gay card, and then after 2+ hours decides to finish. The direction is good, everything else is below par.
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2010
This film is so well cast. John Cusack, Jude Law and Kevin Spacey are just perfect.

The film jumbles a lot of the book up and mixes characters a little. Some scenes (like the ladies card games) too up barely a minute in the film when they dominated most of a chapter in the book. I'm sure it would have made no sense to people who hadn't read the book.

However good the film is, this is a situation where the book is king. The movie only serves to remind you of the book.
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