A detective in post-Katrina New Orleans 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.
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
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In the ancient world, people placed heavy stones on the graves of the dead so their souls would not wander and inflict the living. I always thought this was simply the practice of superstitious and primitive people. But I was about to learn that the dead can hover on the edge of our vision with the density and luminosity of mist, and their claim on the earth can be as legitimate and tenacious as our own.
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Atmospheric, Moody Drama with Crime as Only Part of Context
Filled with bayou atmosphere, the film follows Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux as he sorts through two cases that tie together past and present, history and future, black and white, rich and poor. The cultural tension that permeates the movie creates the backdrop for a psychological crime drama whose suspense comes primarily from the personal conflict of Robicheaux. The crime action itself serves more to buffet the lead character on his internal journey than to create an action-heavy thrill-ride.
In the Electric Mist is rich in atmosphere, and that is perhaps its strongest point. All aspects of the film-making process come together to drive home the feeling of the Lousiana bayou, from the detailed sets to the slow pace to the contrast between the simmering intensity of the true Louisiana folks with the outlandish extroversion of the outsiders and the locals who have been won over by Hollywood culture. It is a movie best experienced with your full attention.
There is a strong sense of suspense in the film, but it is delivered through tragedy and the search for resolution, not high action. While Tommy Lee Jones delivers the sort of performance one might expect and there are certainly plenty of thriller mainstay elements, this is not an action piece, an in intrigue, or a intricate mystery. If you cannot get invested in the tension of a complicated shades-of-grey lead character and his search for answers to questions that may not e fully expressed, the suspense will likely escape you and you will be left with a slow movie with an unsurprising plot. And if you cannot get absorbed into the play of contrasts and dialectics within the fabric of the rural Louisiana cultural fabric, you probably find the message trite, the ending too neat, and some of the performances (e.g., John Goodman as Baby Feet Balboni) as over-the-top and distracting. But if you can allow yourself to experience the film through Jones' Robicheaux, you will find yourself sharing his internal conflict, delighting in bright spots of energy like Alana Locke's Alafair, and clinging to a misty hope for resolution.
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