IN THE ELECTRIC MIST, a film by BERTRAND TAVERNIER, 2009 (Madman DVD)

 |   |  1 min read

IN THE ELECTRIC MIST, a film by BERTRAND TAVERNIER, 2009 (Madman DVD)

Based on the James Lee Burke novel In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, this serial killer mystery (with surreal time slips into a world populated by the ghosts of the Civil War) is set in the Cajun bayou swamps of Louisiana which, of themselves, add an air of uneasy stillness and mystery.

As detective Dave Robicheaux, Tommy Lee Jones pulls out a performance that seems to owe much to those he has made his signature. With flinty calm and latent power, Jones has walked these paths before, from The Fugitive and No Country for Old Men to his saddened and increasingly disillusioned character in the landscape of America coming to terms with a human cost of Iraq, In the Valley of Elah.

Here he brings that gravitas and sudden rage to a tight-lipped role of close-mouthed Louisiana drawl as he investigates first the death of a young hooker, then becomes involved with an alcoholic actor in town to shoot a film which is in part funded by the local thug-cum-kingpin Julie "Baby Feet" Balboni (an enormous and shockingly white John Goodman who is a man you don't want to share a swimming pool with).

And then there are the visions of the Confederate dead who walk this land trying to find peace.

John Sayles appears briefly as the film director, Buddy Guy as a knowledgeable local.

Passages from Burke's poetic novel as voice-overs convey some of the narrative thread but seem an intrusion (although could draw you to the book for the sheer conciseness of writing and their imagery) and although overlong and finding Jones inhabiting the skin of a character he has played in some version previously, In the Electric Mist is more than a mere diversion.

Not quite the magic realism that was once so popular -- mystic surrealism perhaps? -- but certainly a film in which the unresolved and the inconclusive mirror more truly the nature of life, existence and indeed criminal life than anything which is too neatly wrapped up.

But you will spot the bad guy and the rather too "oh, eerie"ending. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Film articles index

THE ROLLING STONES' SHINE A LIGHT: It's not only rock'n'roll (2008 review)

THE ROLLING STONES' SHINE A LIGHT: It's not only rock'n'roll (2008 review)

Director Martin Scorsese might have his name large on the credits of this 2006 Rolling Stones concert but it is clear from the opening scenes just who is in charge: it is the Stones, and Mick... > Read more

WALLANDER, SERIES 1 and 2, the television series based on books by HENNING MANKELL (BBC DVD)

WALLANDER, SERIES 1 and 2, the television series based on books by HENNING MANKELL (BBC DVD)

Since two of my sons moved to Stockholm a couple of years ago I have taken a greater interest in a country I only know for gifting the world smorgasbord, Abba, Roxette and their unique take on... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Eric Bibb: Get On Board (Telarc/Elite)

Eric Bibb: Get On Board (Telarc/Elite)

From the haunting opener Spirit I Am though to the country-blues reworking of the old Civil Rights song Stayed On Freedom which closes this exceptional collection, this 57-year old, Helsinki-based... > Read more

Richard Buckner: Meadow (Merge/Rhythmethod)

Richard Buckner: Meadow (Merge/Rhythmethod)

In a fortnight during which I have heard exciting music of all persuasions -- from the London wideboy hip-hop of Jamie T to the orchestrations of Philip Glass (see below) -- this one is the real... > Read more