Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil 1997

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Critics Consensus

Clint Eastwood's spare directorial style proves an ill fit for this Southern potboiler, which dutifully trudges through its mystery while remaining disinterested in the cultural flourishes that gave its source material its sense of intrigue.

50%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 36

65%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 37,121

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Movie Info

In this adaptation of John Berendt's book, a young journalist, John Kelso (John Cusack), travels to Savannah, Ga., to cover the city's Christmas celebration amid a backdrop of eccentric characters. He becomes intrigued by a sultry singer, Mandy (Alison Eastwood), and engrossed by a murder trial. Wealthy society figure Jim Williams (Kevin Spacey) is accused of shooting his male lover, and the question is whether it was in self-defense as he claims.

Cast & Crew

Kevin Spacey
Jim Williams
John Cusack
John Kelso
Jack Thompson
Sonny Seiler
The Lady Chablis
Chablis Deveau
Alison Eastwood
Mandy Nicholls
Paul Hipp
Joe Odom
Jude Law
Billy Hanson
Dorothy Loudon
Serema Dawes
Anne Haney
Margaret Williams
Anita Zuckerman
Executive Producer
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Critic Reviews for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (18) | Rotten (18)

Audience Reviews for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

  • Oct 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.
    Clintus M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 02, 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.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 08, 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.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 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.
    Cassandra M Super Reviewer

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