Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

This one gets my vote for the year's most boring movie.  Taking his 
twentieth (!) turn behind the camera, Clint Eastwood directs this 
ambling, aimless adaptation of John Berendt's non-fiction bestsel-
ler, about a Manhattan writer (John Cusack) covering the trial of a 
wealthy Savannah socialite (Kevin Spacey) accused of murdering his 
gay lover (Jude Law).  In the process of uncovering information for 
what he decides will be a book, the journalist crosses paths with 
several eccentrics, including a cackling voodoo priestess (Irma P. 
Hall) and the real-life drag queen Lady Chablis (played by her-
self).  While the core story is certainly compelling, MIDNIGHT has 
nary a whiff of dramatic urgency during it's long, long, *long* 
154-minute running time.  (Shit, even the trial sequences are tame. 
Have you ever seen such polite proceedings?)  On the up side, how-
ever, the locales are lush and the accents authentic.  Making her  
acting debut (and scoring her fair share of scenes), Ms. Chablis is 
remarkably unremarkable.  As is Spacey, who underplays to the point 
of near disinterest.  Jack Thompson is a stronger presence as the 
defending lawyer, as is Clint's daughter Alison, as a love interest 
to the reporter.  She's a cutie.  Cusack, however, is a loss-- a 
non-presence who wears the same slack-jawed expression is every 
single scene.  Heaven help the straight man.  BTW, was our projec-
tion bulb going bad, or were more than few scenes in need of better 
lighting?  (Rated "R"/154 min.)

Grade: C-

Copyright 1997 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: November 23, 1997.

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