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Avg. Rating: 3.5
This went immediately to dvd after the briefest of theatrical releases. Fear not. It's not a hash or a mish-mash. It's a linear detective story that holds the attention nicely. Based on the James Lee Burke novel, it offers some of the atmospherics that are the hallmark of Burke's art; it also has some Burkean lines thrown in for good measure. The casting is (finally) excellent, with Tommy Lee Jones as Dave and other stalwarts like John Goodman, Ned Beatty and the wonderful Buddy Guy. Those who are unfamiliar with the Robicheaux novels may find themselves struggling to catch up, though there are various exposition points which help fill in the blanks. The film (like the book) includes scenes in which an LSD-doped Dave begins talking to confederate warriors (here, in particular, John Bell Hood). This translates to 'magic realism' in the book and here the magic is in Levon Helm's performance as Hood.
The Burke novels are so richly textured that the film seems somewhat lean, but it is better to attempt to capture some of the novels' atmosphere than to abandon the attempt. Jonathan Kellerman has called Burke the Faulkner of crime fiction and here we get a hint of what that means. The old south and the new converge in a haunted tale in which Dave himself, as a child, played a part.
The sets are excellent, particularly the brief post-Katrina glimpse of New Orleans. Dave's house and bait shop are just as we would imagine them. So too are the dingy bars on the back roads of New Iberia. We even get a glimpse of Alafair's three-legged raccoon, Tripod. Four and a half stars for all Burke fans and at least four for everyone else. Now read the book. And then read all the other books.
Good actor, poor production
As an avid fan of all things James Lee Burke, I snapped up this DVD as soon as it hit, only to be disappointed by lethargic directing and muddled plot development. Tommy Lee Jones (another triumvirate name) is a solid Dave R., but the rest of the cast, especially the guy playing the alcoholic movie star, didn't pass muster. The dream/hallucination scenes with the "Confederate dead" just seemed awkward. Someday, hopefully, someone will do Mr. Burke's novels justice in the translation to film.
Finally, the Blu-ray quality was fine, but there are zero extras on the disc; I was hoping for an interview with J. L. B.
As a new fan, I loved this movie!
I'm new to James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels, and found the ones I've read thus far to be engaging and gripping reads. So, when I came across this movie, I snapped it up, though to be honest, I haven't read the original novel yet. To my surprise, I enjoyed it immensely, and this was due in part to the plot, but mostly because of Tommy Lee Jones' credible acting as the Southern detective Dave Robicheaux, bent on uncovering the truth behind a local girl's murder. John Goodman also makes an excellent mobster, portraying 'Good Feet' Balboni, who is also Robicheaux's prime suspect in the case. There's also another crime that bothers Robicheaux - this is an older crime but just recently unearthed. A pair of outsiders, an actor and his girlfriend who are in town shooting a Confederate war movie, uncover the remains of a long-murdered person. This jogs Robicheaux's memory, recalling an event in his past that will implicate some prominent men in town. But as the hard-nosed detective probes deeper, he finds threats against his life and those close to him, as some people will do anything to let the secrets of the past and present lie undisturbed.
Tommy Lee Jones' portrayal as the gritty detective who is constantly facing his own personal demons is altogether credibly portrayed. I did feel that I was missing some things whilst watching this movie, and this is possibly due to my lack of exposure to more of Burke's Robicheaux novels, something I plan on addressing! It would be wonderful to see more of the Dave Robicheaux novels being made into movies, preferably with Jones in the lead.
Tommy Lee Jones Gets His man
I great Tommy Lee Jones of a County Sherrif that in the Tommy Lee style golves the case and gers the culpret.
Tommy Lee Jones IS Dave Robicheaux
Why didn't someone think of this sooner? Tommy is perfect to play New Iberia's finest and he delivers a sensational performance, perfectly capturing the character's Louisiana lilt. Others roles are just as well cast. Steenburgen is a terrific fit for Dave's wife. Fans of the books will see all the settings of the novels nicely realized as well, in a production that teams with local flavor and features a top-notch score. The picture does meander a bit and like the book the sub-plot with the spoiled Hollywood star doesn't work all that well, even though he's played by Peter Saarsgard.
Not sure why this went straight to video as it's very solid- a must for James Lee Burke fans. I'll definitely check it out if Tommy does another.
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