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|Index||75 reviews in total|
Why this movie went straight to DVD is beyond me. The mood is pure
southern Gothic, the acting is terrific, and the story is complicated
The performances were dead on. TLJ hits Dave Robicheaux on the button. But the best is Mary Steenburgen as Bootsie. She really nails this part.
The story is about a Cajun cop who is haunted by his own demons, and by the demons he faces in his work as an Iberia Parish Deputy. The characters he meets in trying to solve the murders are so true to life that you wonder if the people playing the parts were really actors. John Goodman is great, as usual, as is Ned Beatty.
While a good old fashion murder mystery awaits you, what is more important, as it is in the novels by James Lee Burke, is the story of Robicheaux. He is a man who has a strong moral code, yet is violent, alcoholic, and continually puts his family in danger. The complexity of his character is difficult to portray, but TLJ does it better than anyone else could.
It is a fine, beautiful movie. Now if only another movie could be made that also includes Clete Purcell, one of the best sidekicks ever written in a mystery novel series.
Tommy Lee Jones has either read Burke's books or he is really that good. Unlike Alec Baldwin's Robicheaux in "Heaven's Prisoners" Jones has the complex nature of Robicheaux's personality down. Jones can deliver on the character's contrasting moods -- the sensitivity of his care for others versus the fire of his smoldering anger. Good flick. No stupid CGI tricks, no political correctness, just a good old fashioned crime mystery with a very riveting main character. There are some unresolved elements regarding the Goodman and Beatty parts but the dogged pursuit of the criminal element by Jones is worth the price of admission. I've read all of Burke's books and this is as close as anyone is going to get to myriad aspects of Dave Robicheaux's tortured soul. Burke fans disappointed by "Heaven's Prisoners" should see this one.
A no-nonsense cop named "Robicheaux" (pronounced Roba-shaw, and well
played by Tommy Lee Jones) is on a case involving the murders of
several local prostitutes. At the same time, Robicheaux is haunted by a
decades-old killing of a Black man whose remains are found in a swamp
by a member of a film crew shooting a movie. So the twin questions are
... who is responsible for the murders of the prostitutes, and is there
a link between these murders and the long-ago killing of the Black man?
Set in modern day South Louisiana, near New Orleans, "In The Electric Mist" absolutely drips with authentic Cajun atmosphere. The place names, the rustic look of old frame houses, the backwater bayous with lush vegetation, those wonderful Louisiana accents, the outdoor barbecue at a plantation house ... You feel like you're really there, in that place. It's the best element of the film, by far.
The film's casting and acting are quite good. And the music is terrific. At the end credits the song played is the haunting "La Terre Tremblante", with its mystical-Blues sound and French lyrics. The song is straight out of Cajun country, and it is mesmerizing.
Unfortunately, the film's plot is muddled. Editing is terrible. And the film's ending is very unsatisfying. My understanding is that the film went through some serious post-production issues, the most significant being the deletion of a number of scenes. These deletions may account for plot problems associated with choppy flow and lack of clarity.
Even so, "In The Electric Mist" is still worth watching, not so much for the story or plot as for the evocative Cajun atmosphere and that terrific music.
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
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.
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.
I have been a long time fan of the writing of James Lee Burke. When they made Heaven's Prisoners into a movie I was disappointed with the finished product. So was everyone else and they didn't make any more of his books into films. I was glad to see that now, years later, they have decided to make another film. The casting is excellent and the story telling is true to the book. Tommy Lee Jones plays the main character about as well as I could imagine anyone playing Dave. I hope the movie is received with good reviews because I would love to see more of the series made into films. I highly recommend this excellent film to anyone. I think that James Lee Burke fans would be pleased, as well as people unfamiliar with the books. See this movie!!! It does not disappoint. The only thing I wish they had done, was make a movie out of one of the books that has Clete Purcel as a main character. I would love to see Black Cherry Blues made into a movie. I just think it would be hard to cast Clete. Maybe that character is too big for the silver screen.
I read the book last summer and was anxious to see the film. If you did not read the book you might find things confusing. Unfortunately they did not expand on the mystical episodes that Elrod and Dave have regarding the confederate soldiers and how Elrod stays with Dave for a time and the really confusing part on how Dave was shot outside the club by the "dead" woman. In all, it followed the book and was very well acted, but it left too many important "book" parts out. Tommy Lee Jones was great and I think he made a terrific Dave, but I'm sorry they didn't show more of Peter Sarsgaard; he's such a terrific actor and in the book his character is as "insightful" regarding the confederate soldiers as Dave. If you read the book before watching the movie, you'll get it. I really enjoyed the movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I liked watching the movie, but i didn't like the movie. Why? I really enjoyed the bayou scenery, the cinematographic landscapes, a different cinematic tempo, and of course Tommy Lee. All were pleasantries in a world of crap films that abound. BUT, and here is the kicker... what just happened in the last 2 hours? At every turn the story is dished out like patchy comic book with no flow to the plot. Though i loved the tempo of the shots there was no meat on these bones... and other than tommy lee and the daughter, no other characters (except the cop with the mosquito/bat joke) left anything for us to hold on to or want to see more of. Plot wise i felt tossed from one awkward portrayal of some event or person to the next, each scene consistently lacking something important. Just as some French flicks can end, leaving you hanging like an abrupt slice of life does, this film felt like that the whole way through but not at the end! In some ways it flowed like Jules and Jim, and i can't put my finger on why i draw this distant similarity. But in the Electric Mist, the question, "what's the point?" was a recurring theme for me in the details and dialogs. Even though i felt kidnapped and tossed in the back of a van for a lot the film, being lost just really didn't matter, because we are spoon fed the step-by-step details of the choppy simple plot which left me feeling like all the details and the plot superfluously and inanely added up to very little by the end. You see, you ultimately get to the end, and i got there with a lingering "huh?". Again, don't watch this for the plot or the attempt at mystery, there is neither. Don't expect the thriller or action it tries to be, or even to be engaged by any deep social commentary, it fell short on all these too. Watch it to get out of the rut and repetition of Hollywood, and into some beautiful bayou through some French eyes with the ever enjoyable Tommy Lee as captivating guide who pulls off some good small town tough sheriff moments.
There aren't too many movies where you find that each and every actor
seems realistic, without overplaying his or her part. I definitely have
a bias towards moody, dark Louisiana movies with psychotic killers and
corruption. This movie has all the virtues of that genre. Tommy Lee
Jones is excellent as a worn-out, aging, alcoholic detective (on the
wagon) who has a strong moral sense, but cuts corners when he deems it
John Goodman is so versatile that I didn't recognize him as the same actor who was in The Big Lebowski which I had watched only the day before. The script was so adept that they handled the issues of race relations in what I considered a realistic manner without any preaching. The settings, whether swamps at night, Southern mansions, broken down shacks, or merely country scenery all seemed highly realistic. The editing was excellent. Thus, the timing of most scenes was just right, so there wasn't the problem of boredom.
The only reason I gave the movie an 8 rather than a 10 is that it suffered from too much mumbled dialogue, so you have to be willing to live with about 25% of dialogue shooting past you (unless perhaps you are from "Loozyana"), and perhaps missing some of the relationships between people early on. However, while this meant that you might miss out on some of the subtleties, the story is not that fast moving and complex that it warrants bypassing the movie, given all its virtues.
I can count on my fingers with half my hand cut away the number of
times I've ever been disappointed by Tommy Lee Jones's performance in a
film. This film here is no exception. John Goodman is another who
always delivers a solid performance and they both give us a great show.
The writing of the script is solid and the setting of the film is
provoking. The entire film works well with support from veteran
character actors like Ned Beatty, craggy faced James Gammon and
ex-drummer Levon Helm, as well as younger performers like Mary
Steenburgen, Justina Machado,Kelly Macdonald and the up and coming
One might argue that this kind of a role is almost type casting for Tommy Lee Jones but I would argue otherwise. An actor works with what he has and TLJ has always been able to use his face to great advantage from a stone-cold glare to a sheepish grin. The story is told from his character's point of view, in this case, a person with an uncompromising sense of justice-- not a paragon of virtue, by any means, but one who refuses to sacrifice his principles of right and wrong, i.e., the hero with a decidedly human face. The tension does not let up as the hunt draws closer and closer to the conclusion. While I think the little coda at the end was unneeded, it still works to make a good story.
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