Average review score based on 83 user reviews
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Although Kevin Spacey is wonderful as Jim Williams and John Cusack is great as John Kelso, the real star of this movie is the city of Savannah, Georgia, and some of its illustrious characters.
The central story of the movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, is the 1970s murder trial of Jim Williams (Spacey), who is accused of murdering his gay lover Billy Hanson (Jude Law). Jim is an exquisite antique dealer and lived in and had remodeled the famed Mercer House in Savannah (yes, that's Johnny Mercer, "Moon River" and "Autumn Leaves" are two of his songs). Jim is having his traditional Christmas party with a New York reporter (Kelso) visiting to report on the event when the murder happens.
Based on the book by John Berendt, the movie is a good example of sleepy Southern hospitality with lots of interesting characters. For example there is Luther Driggers, who has flies on strings that fly around him, and who threatens to poison the drinking water of Savannah. He becomes the foreman of the jury.
There is Minerva, the voodoo emissary to the dead, who visits the cemetery where Billy Hanson is buried to keep him under control. She has all kinds of potions and sayings that seem to predict what is going to happen.
There is Sonny Seilers, the judge in the movie, who was really the defense attorney in the third trial of Jim Williams. Yes, it actually took 4 trials, but the movie only covers one and changes the outcome.
There is Mandy Hillis, played by Clint Eastwood's daughter Allison Eastwood. She becomes John Kelso's love interest and helps uncover a clue that becomes important in the trial. She also sings some of the Mercer songs.
But the icing on the cake is Lady Chablis, a transvestite personality who becomes a major part of the movie. She dresses to the hilt and works with John Kelso to put a slant on Billy Hanson's character. But more than that, we get to see her act at the Club One nightclub. Yes, she is vulgar and outspoken and may turn off many viewers. She is just so unique that she almost steals the show.
This movie also has a different special feature that introduces some of the real people of Savannah who did not get to play themselves in the movie. Interestingly, they are introduced from a map of the city of Savannah. We also meet Dorothy Williams Kingery, Jim's sister.
This movie is well worth watching although it is 2-1/2 hours long. The special features are also well worth watching. They may make you want to take a tour of the city.
And don't forget the Bird Girl, the statue of the little girl you see holding the two plates in balance. This movie, however, is definitely not balanced!
I really like this movie. The book was great, but the characters really come to life with the movie. Clint Eastwood is the director.
Kevin Spacey plays Jim Williams . The action happens in that grand old town of Savannah , JawJa.. and is based on a very very true story of a high profile murder. It is a tremendous movie with beautiful scenery , interesting characters, and of course.. Johnny Mercer's beautiful music.
Take a look at this movie, great entertainment for an evening..
I intially bought this movie because I heard Jude Law and Kevin Spacey were starring in it, two exceptional actors; in addition John Cusack, also stars in the movie (also a good actor). This movie should have been good; however even this talented actors could not sustain my interest in this movie. First of all Jude Law is not in the movie long enough for true Jude Law fans, which I happen to be one of. Kevin Spacey although one of the best actors out there, could not keep my interest in this movie. It was long and overdrawn, and had no real plot in my opinion; all I really know is it takes place in the South, but the movie is all over the place and you are like "what the heck is this movie really about?"
My mom is a die hard Cusack fan but even she could not see this movie to the end. I attempted to watch it twice but could not see it to end. The movie is definetly not worth watching past Law's apperances. I love Kevin Spacey but this movie is a real dudd. It should be called the "Garden of long and Overdrawn."
The book was excellent and the movie was an excellent rendition by Clint Eastwood. This is the story of an actual event, and many of the characters are the actual participants (including judges, attorneys...) and local citizens who were there during the original case. Clint's daughter plays a main character, and does it very well. But I doubt she was part of the original mystery. ;-) This movie is very well done, and if you enjoy mysteries and colorful characters, this belongs in your library. You will probably come away wondering why you didn't hear about it before. :-) I give it a ten, out of ten.
I was so excited to see the movie after reading such a funny, riveting book chock full of colorful characters. What a let down! The plot did not translate to the screen and the colorful characters were either watered-down, changed to something unrecognizable, or simply not in the movie. Kevin Spacey--always better than the material he's in--tries to rise above the muck and give some dignity to this production, but it doesn't help. John Cusack just plain out can't act along with Eastwood's daughter, who doesn't do much other than swish and flirt her way through the movie. The soundrack and the scenery are the only things that help ease the pain of sitting through to the end. It is obvious Eastwood was out of his element and did not know how to interpret and present the screen version of a book so heavily rooted in the South and its culture.