Studio: Image Entertainment
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman, Peter Sarsgaard, Mary Steenburgen, Levon Helm
Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Release Date: March 03, 2009
Rating: G for (violence, language, and brief sexuality/nudity)
Run Time: 01h:42m:20s
Genre(s): suspense thriller
ìA wild orchid sang a song to me once. She had the prettiest voice.î - Dave Robicheaux (Tommy Lee Jones)
Tommy Lee Jones plays a law enforcement official on the trail of a murderer, that must overcome numerous obstacles along the way. Tell me if you've heard that one before...
Movie Grade: D+
DVD Grade: B
Tommy Lee Jones has enjoyed a long, illustrious career, but his latest film, IN THE ELECTRIC
MIST, has seemingly taken a longer time to have a chance at a large audience. Based on James Lee Burkeís 1993
novel, In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, director Bertrand Tavernierís film adaptation was shot back in
2007. After languishing in release limbo, it was finally scheduled for at least a limited theatrical run earlier this year.
Despite a big-name cast, including Jones, John Goodman, and Peter Sarsgaard, that theatrical release never came
about. The decision to send the film direct-to-DVD (and Blu-ray) turned out to be a good one, though, as
ELECTRIC MIST is a confused, uneven drama that ends as awkwardly as it begins.
Detective Dave Robicheaux (Jones) makes his living roaming the backwoods parishes of New Orleans. Heís hot on
the trail of a serial killer with a penchant for making hookers and down-on-their-luck women his victims. Making
this search difficult is the presence of a film crew, there thanks to Robicheauxís enemy, Baby Feet Balboni (John
Goodman). The star of this film Balboni is funding is the reckless Elrod Sykes (Peter Sarsgaard), whoís constantly
drunk, but happens upon the body of a dead black man. This discovery triggers the Robicheauxís vivid memory of
a murder he witnessed, involving, you guessed it, a black man. Even stranger, heís also being ìvisitedî by a Civil
War General (Levon Helm), who muses with Robicheaux about all things spiritual and logical.
If the above plot synopsis makes it sound like Tavernierís film attempts to bite off more than it can chew, then itís
done its job. Thereís simply way too many subplots and angles for a single, 102-minute movie to tackle, and this
one doesnít even come close to providing satisfying answers for any of the questions posed. Perhaps James Lee
Burkeís novel has the girth and crafting editing required to pull off the thoroughly satisfying tale of murder and
deceit, with a dash of the supernatural thrown in as well. Unfortunately, thatís not the case in this cinematic
translation, and the well-assembled cast suffers (along with the audience) as a result.
While Tommy Lee Jones is at his usual, above average best, when all is said and done, the key word is ìusual.î It
was a mere five minutes into the film when I realized that this is the same performance that Jones has been giving
in at least his last four movies. Sure, those movies (especially NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN) are much better
than IN THE ELECTRIC MIST, one canít help but think that Jones is settling into a bit of typecasting that could
result in a sudden decrease in the quality of his work. The rest of the cast, including the always great Sarsgaard
(KINSEY) look as lost as the muddled plot and subplots in this huge misfire.
Imageís disc is more impressive than the film itself, thanks to a gorgeous HD 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen
presentation, featuring crisp images that practically pop off the screen at times. Weíre given the option of a Dolby
Digital 5.1 mix as far as the sound goes, but the lossless, DTS-HD MA 5.1 is the way to go. Extras-wise, we only get
the filmís theatrical trailerÖoh the irony!
Posted by: Chuck Aliaga - April 13, 2009, 4:39 pm - DVD Review