Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

September 3, 2011 - Let me preface this by saying that a few weeks before I saw this movie, I took part in one of those memes that was going around on Facebook. A friend ranked three movies from a director. If you "like" that post, the friend gave you a director and you ranked three of his/her movies, and so on.

Anyway, the director I was given was Clint Eastwood. The only movie of his that I could recall seeing was Unforgiven. So, I looked him up on IMDB and discovered that, yes, Unforgiven was the only Clint Eastwood-directed film I had seen. His list of titles is quite impressive and I'm not sure how I missed seeing at least one of the others. Anyway, that situation has now been rectified (although I didn't realize it until the credits at the end).

Clint Eastwood directs Kevin Spacey and John Cusack in this 1997 film based on a true story that author John Berendt turned into a book. The cast also includes Jude Law, Leon Rippy (recently seen as Earl in the TV series Saving Grace), Eastwood's daughter, Alison, and a transsexual named Lady Chablis.

Cusack plays the Berendt character, a writer named John Kelso. In 1981, he's sent to Savannah by "Town and Country" magazine to cover a lavish Christmas party hosted by the ridiculously wealthy Jim Williams (Spacey). No sooner is the party over then Kelso is awakened by the sounds of police activity at Williams' house. Turns out that Williams has shot and killed a young man named Billy Hanson (Jude Law), his part-time employee and lover.

Williams admits to the shooting but claims it was in self-defense. Kelso, who tells his editor that Savannah is "like Gone with the Wind on mescaline," decides to stick around for the trial and write a book about the case while also letting the defense in on his research.

Overall review: *** The movie contained more humor than I thought. I liked the performances and the story kept me interested. My one complaint is that the movie is too long, clocking in at 2:35. I realize that things move a little slower down South, but they don't need to move that slow.