Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Savannah, a small southern town. At first, it looks like it ain’t any different from other towns. Well, you better take another look, boy. In Savannah, all kinds of people cohabit, black or white, rich or poor, straight or gay… In the middle of this there’s John Kelso (John Cusack), a not very successful young author hired to write a short essay for Town & Country Magazine about the famous Christmas Party organized each year by Savannah resident Jim Williams, a rich dandy who loves fine art and cigarillos, among other things. Before long, Kelso finds out how odd the townspeople can be. He meets a wisecracking drag queen, a Voodoo priestess, a man who keeps flies on leashes, the Married Women’s Card Club… Williams likes Kelso, and he helps him to his private parties. But after one of these evenings, things go wrong and a redneck hustler is found dead, with Williams as the prime suspect. The trial that’s about to begin will be one unusual one…

Hey, this is a terrific movie! The screenplay based on John Berendt’s best-seller is very well written, and the story is intriguing, but not half as much as the mood and the characters. This is the kind of movie that’s more about its details than its plot. It was directed by Clint Eastwood, one of the most mature contemporary American filmmakers. I love his precise visual style and the smooth pacing of his movies. Here, he takes the time to live with the people of Savannah instead of rushing to the climax. Being an actor himself (though he doesn’t star in this film), he knows how to make the best out of his cast. John Cusack is very good as the straight man, and Kevin Spacey is even better as the stylish, sneakily charming Williams. But the true revelation of the film is the hilarious Lady Chablis, who plays herself/himself. “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” is a beautifully crafted, quietly fascinating picture that’s well worth seeing.