When New York journalist John Kelso (Cusack) arrives in Savannah, Georgia, to cover one of the lavish Christmas parties held by wealthy antique dealer Jim Williams (Spacey), he doesn't expect to get caught up in a murder trial. But after his host shoots volatile young employee Billy Hanson (Law), Kelso finds himself following the case with a view to writing a book, and making enquiries that might help substantiate Williams' self-defence plea - an investigation which, in introducing him to such locals as the transvestite nightclub artiste Lady Chablis and voodoo queen Minerva, uncovers a whole new world beneath the colourful but in many ways conservative veneer of Savannah society. Elegantly directed and beautifully performed, Eastwood's film of John Berendt's non-fiction best-seller is a warm, witty, consistently intriguing character study. Particularly successful are the funny, touching scenes shared by Cusack and the flirtatious Chablis, typical of the movie's fascination with questions of pretence, trust and tolerance. Also engaging, however, is the quirky wit and Eastwood's readiness, whenever the occasion arises, to deflect focus away from the crime on to other details in the social tapestry, subtly nudging at divisions involving race, class, gender and sexuality.
Cast and crew
John Lee Hancock
Kevin Spacey Jude Law Paul Hipp The Lady Chablis Geoffrey Lewis Jack Thompson John Cusack Irma P Hall Kim Hunter Alison Eastwood Jo Ann Pflug