It is so rare for a movie to be better than the book that I can only think of one instance that this has happened. Most of the time Hollywood takes a good book and turns it into some kind of craziness that should’ve never touched the silver screen. But when it comes to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil the case is quite the opposite. First let say that I love the title. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil has to be the greatest title in title history. If it wasn’t already famous I would steal it in a heart beat and write an amazing book for it as only such a title deserves. Sadly the actual book doesn’t live up to it.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Now I never did write a review for it or rate it. In part because I didn’t finish it, now on the one hand that might seem like a pretty good reason to write a review explaining why it was so terrible I couldn’t finish it, but on the other hand a part of me thinks it just wasn’t my kind of book. There are books out there that aren’t bad they’re simply not your cup of tea. This book like the movie is set in Savannah, Ga and honestly that was the only point in it’s favor. My first problem is it painted a picture that basically everyone in this town is strange and behaves oddly. To an outsider us Southerners may appear quirky at times but I think they took it a bit far. Then again it’s fiction and Berendt has the right to create a story that’s intriguing to his readers.
My main problem with it was that every character you came in contact with, whether they were important or not, you got an elaborate background story. These stories were funny and interesting but it got to the point I had no clue what the story was even really supposed to be about. Now I went into this book with a basic idea of the plot and yet I was lost pretty much from the get go and finally had to give up. Once again maybe it was just me, maybe I just prefer my stories more straight forward. Either way I don’t find myself with the urge to recommend it to anyone.
Now the movie was good! Having read what I did of the book I can see where some of the quirky characters and side stories where carried over but it was just enough to give it some flavor and not completely over power the plot. The main point of the story is that Kevin Spacey has killed a man and though we may think we know what has happened nothing is quite sure, making this an interesting mystery for the only one who really knows is the killer and the question you have to ask yourself is, are we to trust him?
But what really makes this a great movie is the dash of voodoo. I wouldn’t call this story supernatural in any way but as the voodoo lady is casting for answers at midnight (how it got it’s name, before midnight is good and after is for evil) it makes you wonder if there isn’t more out there. There are no definite answers in this movie, a fact that would normally frustrate me, but as the credits are rolling it’ll leave you thinking, and wondering, and a little smile might cross your face at the thought that no matter what the world tends to wright itself. And that’s good enough for me.