MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL1/2
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring : Kevin Spacey (Jim Williams)
John Cusack (John Kelso)
Jude Law (Billy Hanson)
Alison Eastwood (Mandy Nichols)
Screenplay by John Lee Hancock, based on the book by John Berendt
Running time : 2hrs 30mins
A Warner Bros. Pictures Presentation
RATING : **1/2 out of *****
Those who have not read the book (like yours truly here) may find the title of this film a bit "misleading." The starting credits were very promising -- a slow glide into a cemetary, with a constant focus on an unmistakably morbid clay figure certainly p aved an expectation of some sort for the audience. Even as soon as the credits were over, a BLUE-VELVET-ty feeling was present as the camera montaged scenes of the southern town of Savannah, interlaced with a soothing yet mysterious soundtrack. Promising indeed. With credits like Eastwood, Spacey and John Cusack, I have to expect something right?
John Kelso (Cusack) is a reporter from New York, sent to Savannah, Georgia to cover a prestigious annual Christmas party held by the prominent and wealthy Jim Williams (Spacey) -- an antiques dealer. Kelso writes for `Town and Country', a magazine vers ion of `The lifestyles of the Rich and Famous; Their Homes' and Jim Williams owns just about the most famous historical mansion in Savannah, the Mercer House. The meticulously planned party, as expected, is a great success like the years before featuring the most prominent guests in the county. However, it is the events which follow that form the crux of the plot.
Waking up from his sleep by the commotion outside the mansion, he discovers that his polite and gentlemanly host has been arrested for the murder of his live-in-lover, Billy Hanson, a rebellious young bloke with a history of violent behaviour. He plead s self-defense. As he sets up his defense with the fortune and influence, he struggles with the possibility of having to wash linen in public or face a tough sentence -- death. Totally convinced of Williams' innocence, Kelso sets out to help him out of hi s plight.
Despite strong performances from Spacey and Cusack, MIDNIGHT still proves to be rather slow and draggy. One can appreciate Eastwood's effort in trying to tie the audience to the characters this way and much was spent doing so. The characters however, w ere flatly written, something I would not expect from a movie directed by such a prominent director and based upon a supposedly bestseller. It's almost a crime. The film would have totally lacked life had it not been the cool-suave deliverance of Spacey a nd the rebellious Billy Hanson.
MIDNIGHT started off perfectly fine with a nice slow buildup which eventually runs into a wall of boredom and everything after that, well, it's history. There were characters of no real significance, like the one played by Eastwood's daughter, Allison Eas twood and there were also many other potentially interesting characters which did not receive the attention they deserve which could've helped the movie develop some sort of personality.
The end result? Something which does not even pose a glimmer, especially at a time of such interesting movies such as TITANIC, THE FULL MONTY and GOOD WILL HUNTING. Seems like Eastwood has added another one to his current down-trend in film directing. Somehow, I have strong feeling that the film did not really do the book real justice. Watch TITANIC or THE FULL MONTY for the umpteenth time.
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From: Wayne (Wayne&Garth@Wayne'sWorld.com)
yes, i totally agree that Midnight is one of the most boring movies I have ever seen in the past decade... and I watched it in America, where there was much hype about it, and the trailers seemed to delude viewers with the "quirky" and "eccentric" Savannah myth rather than the more pathetic and anaemic story line of Spacey and lover and the long drawn out crux of the plot which made everyone in the world fall asleep. including all my friends... grrr, how perfectly misleading... and I thought, you know, Clint Eastwood, Spacey, Cusack- sounds like something yummy, but instead it's such a darn SNORE...