In the Electric Mist [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Several deep south themes are interwoven: slavery and racism, the Civil War, blackmail and corruption, gumbo and Dr Pepper (eh?). There's no denying the atmosphere created, and the acting is generally strong though blues legend Buddy Guy seems to be reading off an autocue (at least he gets a chance to play guitar later). But Southern Comfort, Deliverance or Mississippi Burning have equal atmosphere and are much better films.
The ending has to be one of the biggest anti-climaxes since Scatman Crothers' arrival at the Overlook Hotel (in The Shining). I won't spoil it but suffice to say I laughed and it's not intended to be funny. Some other reviews have mentioned that 20 minutes have been cut from this version and, despite not having seen the full version, I can imagine that as some strands of the story are under-developed.
The blu-ray begins with a series of trailers for straight to DVD chick flicks, all of which are in (sub)standard definition. Fortunately the movie is in HD and is pretty sharp though has signs of over-sharpening during the transfer. The cinematography is beautiful though and it's a shame that the pace or re-editing of the story lets it down.
Once again Tommy Lee Jones as the haggard and troubled lead - just stuns - his depth and power fill the screen absolutely all of the time. Credit must also go to the uniformly superb supporting cast too (even if in some cases they don't get a lot to do) - John Goodman, Peter Sarsgaard, Mary Steenburgen, Ned Beatty, Kelly MacDonald, Pruitt Taylor-Vince, Justina Machado and even Buddy Guy (the blues guitar player) - all good. And then there's Levon Helm of the famous Americana rock group THE BAND as the ghost of a Confederate General - adding extraordinary old-world gravitas and mystery to the piece.
The Blu Ray print is BEAUTIFUL too - even in the dark interiors - but especially in the outdoor swamp shots and town houses. Disappointingly though, there are precious few extras.
Bertrand Tavernier's film isn't a masterpiece for sure, and it's perhaps just a little 'too' in love with its own gumbo and Louisiana scenery, but I found it immensely moving in places - and awkwardly real - especially on the core subject of racism and its still lingering malevolent presence (the title of this review is a rumination by one of the characters on that subject when a dead body from 1965 comes back to haunt him).
The film reminded me of John Sayles at his best ("Passion Fish" for instance) - full of heart and great observation - which is high praise indeed...
I'd say ignore the so-so reviews and put it high on your rental list. Recommended.
Most other products that short-changed on that scale, would be liable to prosecution under a couple of Acts.
The film is directed by Bertrand Tavernier, who also directed the splendidy dark and cynical Coup de Torchon, based on a Jim Thompson pulp novel. Tavernier transplanted that story to a deeply racist West Africa to good effect. Although this film is certainly strange, it is not nearly as strange as this pedigree might suggest. A ghostly confederate general pops up, the lead is haunted by his previous alcoholism, and the deep south setting is used to good effect.
The film went straight to DVD in America, and despite the starry cast, with some splendidly idiosyncratic cameos, it is easy to see why. Imagine a really excellent tv drama, with a fantastic cast, and that gives you an idea of what to expect. No jumping from helicopters or breakneck chases through the swamps.
Personally I enjoyed it, Jones is an engaging lead, and it meandered along in an agreeable fashion. Not as hard edged as Prime Cut, nor as supernatural as the John Connolly books, it provides a relatively gentle afternoon's entertainment, though for me the Big Easy remains the definitive deep south detective yarn.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A crime thriller with a difference. It captures the atmosphere of the deep south. Tommy lee Jones is great with great supporting cast. Read morePublished 1 hour ago by Mr. A. Smith
a strange side story to the usual detective films but a very watchable film.Published 1 month ago by john agar
Disappointing adaptation of a great book but ok if you haven't read the bookPublished 2 months ago by E. Coster
I like Tommy Lee Jones, always plays the same kinda character but always watchable, not a great movie but not terrible either. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Colum Lavelle