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In the Electric Mist (DVD Review)

26 Feb, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

In the electric mist

Street 3/3/09
$27.98 DVD, $25.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for violence, language and brief sexuality/nudity.
Stars Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman, Peter Sarsgaard, Kelly Macdonald, Mary Steenburgen, Ned Beatty.

Bags under the eyes, pockmarks and a ruddy nose can symbolize a burdened life numbed by alcohol, denial and even self-pity.

For Lt. Dave Robicheaux (Tommy Lee Jones), it also represents coming to grips with Louisiana’s insufferable humidity, racist past and the unexplained killings of young hookers in New Iberia.

When self-indulgent movie star Elrod Sykes (Peter Sarsgaard) — in town filming a Civil War film — is pulled over by Robicheaux for speeding and a DUI, he begins babbling about skeletal remains found near the movie set.

Upon closer inspection Robicheaux recognizes the remains as those belonging to a young shackled black man he accidentally witnessed shot to death in Atchafalaya Swamp nearly 40 years earlier.

Enter transplanted New Orleans mobster Julie “Baby Feet” Balboni (John Goodman), purportedly financing the film with “social” ties to the slain women, and invariably the sins of the past resurrect themselves into the present.

Fresh from award-nominated performances in No Country for Old Men and In the Valley of Elah, Jones’ strong on-screen persona and moody voiceovers carry Mist with aplomb. French director Bertrand Tavernier’s penchant for panoramic shots of the bayou countryside and penetrating sunsets grant Jones a requisite stage.

Texas-born Jones is clearly in his element when allowed to fully explore the peculiar culture, habits and dialect of the south.

“You just look for good parts and good stories and a good company to work with,” Jones once told an interviewer. “Characters with no integrity are just as interesting as characters with lots of integrity.”

Additional fine performances from Mary Steenburgen as Robicheaux’s wife, Ned Beatty as corrupt sugar cane farmer Twinky LeMoyne, James Gammon as a salt-of-the-earth local and Levon Helm as erudite Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood underscore why Image Entertainment chose Mist as one of its tentpole releases this year.

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