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GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI

SYNOPSIS:
In June 1963, Byron De La Beckwith ( Woods), a vehement racist, assassinated civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Acquitted due to two mistrials, Beckwith has been a free man for thirty years. However, in 1989 Medgar's widow, Myrlie (Goldberg) brings up the case again, and this time it falls into the lap of Mississippi assistant district attorney Bobby DeLaughter (Baldwin). His boss, Ed Peters (Nelson) isn't crazy about him taking the case, due to its notoriety and because most of the original evidence is missing and most of the witnesses are now dead. As Bobby encounters crank calls, death threats and his wife leaving him, he pushes even harder to build a case to retry Beckwith for the murder.

"This reality-based film is one of high expectation, yet it is curiously unsatisfying. One of its major problems is that few people have ever heard of Medgar Evers and his assassination, yet the film barely touches on Evers.

We have so little of an inkling as to who he was and his contribution to the civil rights cause that the aftermath of his death lacks the emotional punch this film is desperate to attain.

Nor does the film delve into the psychology of Beckwith’s intense racism, giving his character a very black and white view of the world, one that seems artificial and cliched. Performances are also rather mundane, from James "Gee, I’m over-acting under all this latex" Woods, to an insipid and passionless performance by Alec Baldwin, though Whoopee Goldberg gives a certain inner strength as Evers’ widow.

What could have been a fascinating and powerful look at an unsung hero in the history of Southern America’s Civil Rights Movement, instead becomes another predictable courtroom melodrama, lifeless and lacking the conviction that director Rob Reiner normally carries to his work.
Paul Fischer

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GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI PG
(US)

CAST: Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, James Woods, Craig T. Nelson

DIRECTOR: Rob Reiner

PRODUCER: Frederick Zollo, Nicholas Paleologos, Andrew Scheinman, Rob Reiner

SCRIPT: Lewis Colick

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Seale

EDITOR: Robert Leighton

MUSIC: Marc Shaiman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Lilly Kilvert

RUNNING TIME: 130 mins

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 1, 1997

 







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