A detective in post Katrina New Orleans area has a series of surreal encounters with a troop of friendly Confederate soldiers while investigating serial killings of local prostitutes, a 1965 lynching and corrupt local businessmen.
An accountant is introduced to a mysterious sex club known as The List by his lawyer friend. But in this new world, he soon becomes the prime suspect in a woman's disappearance and a multi-million dollar heist.
Lt. Dave Robicheaux, a detective in New Iberia, Louisiana, is trying to link the murder of a local hooker to New Orleans mobster Julie (Baby Feet) Balboni, who is co-producer of a Civil War film. At the same time, after Elrod Sykes, the star of the film, reports finding another corpse in the Atchafalaya Swamp near the movie set, Robicheaux starts another investigation, believing the corpse to be the remains of a black man who he saw being murdered 35 years before. Written by
First, there's the great French director, Tavernier, who made many films Americans missed. But at least most remember "'Round Midnight,'" an amazingly done jazz film with the late Dexter Gordon. Then there are the great actors, from Tommy Lee (who did indeed "nail" Robicheaux), but also Ned Beatty, Mary Steenburgen (who made the ordinary character of Bootsie bearable), the other great director John Sayles (as a director,of course) and countless lesser known character actors. The production values are superb. I've read most of Burke's novels and the sets of Dave's house, the dives he visits, the bayou, all of it are exactly as I'd imagined. The writing is good and I don't get why people think the story is confusing. But there is one major flaw (for me) that rankles. Why cast musicians (Levon Helm, Buddy Guy) in roles that really need strong acting? Helm was a great drummer for The Band, but I've never seen him act with much conviction. And the character of the dead Confederate general requires strength. Hal Holbrook would have been perfect. Then there's Buddy Guy, a great Chicago blues man, but he's no actor. He seemed almost to be reading most of his lines from off camera in one scene.
You cannot put strong actors in the same scenes with weak ones. But good actors together can make a scene--witness the last confrontation between Tommy Lee's Robicheaux and Ned Beatty's Lemoyne.
So, solid direction, much strong acting, faithful to the book, great sets and setting, all brought lower by some bad casting. Still, I think this one deserves more respect, especially compared to many of this year's "Oscar worthy" films.
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