In the Electric Mist
Making his belated US debut, the celebrated French director, Bertrand Tavernier, delivers plenty of atmosphere but not much tension in this listless crime thriller, which is based on one of the author James Lee Burke's long-running series about the veteran New Orleans police detective Dave Robicheaux. The original novel was set in the early 1990s, but Tavernier and his writers relocate the action to post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana, lending an extra dash of dramatic subtext to a convoluted tale of historical injustice and ingrained corruption. Coasting along on his usual grizzled charisma, Tommy Lee Jones stars as Robicheaux, a recovering alcoholic haunted by visions of American Civil War generals, as he unravels murky links between recent murders, long-buried crimes and a Hollywood film crew shooting in his backyard. Jones seems to have spent half of his career playing world-weary lawmen, and brings plenty of movie baggage to In the Electric Mist, which is not necessarily helpful. Tavernier's film certainly invites unflattering comparisons with No Country for Old Men, which co-starred not only Jones but also Kelly Macdonald, both in similar roles to those they play here. There may well be a fundamental culture clash when European arthouse directors attempt Hollywood-style police thrillers, because In the Electric Mist suffers from similar problems, with muddy plotting and slack pacing. Under Tavernier's leisurely baton, action scenes lack punch, performances ramble and shock revelations fall flat. The result is a film of high-quality ingredients, but it is disappointingly undercooked.
Published: August 12, 2010 04:00 AM