Film Review: Secrets In The Swamp


In the Electric Mist is a mystery film that was released in 2009. Tommy Lee Jones leads the way here as Sheriff Detective Dave Robicheaux. It is based on a novel by James Lee Burke with a screenplay written by Jerzy Kromolowski and Mary Olson-Kromolowski. Bertrand Tavernier serves as director. The cast includes John Goodman, Peter Sarsgaard, Mary Steenburgen, Ned Beatty, Justina Machado, and Pruitt Taylor Vince.

Dave Robicheaux is an investigator for the Iberia Parrish in Louisiana who learns of young prostitutes disappearing and then being found murdered. He also is haunted by memories of a murder of a young black man he witnessed as a child. Another decayed corpse is found that brings Robicheaux back to that rather unpleasant memory. He also has a reluctant encounter with a drunk Hollywood director and his actress girlfriend. Robicheaux finds his investigation somewhat hampered by these two Hollywood elites, however as a recovering alcoholic himself, he can’t quite leave the director to his own devices. There are former friends who are now enemies in the mix. There are mobsters lurking in the bayous. Not to mention, this all takes place in Louisiana, so the heat and stifling humidity isn’t likely to improve Robicheaux’s mood. One other interesting turn of events is that Robicheaux is having some conversations with a long dead Confederate general. A bit of a strange ghost story is added in here.

Yes, this all seems quite confusing and actually kind of is. Jones does manage to display his usual compelling presence. Robicheaux is a sharp and determined cop, but he gets a bit ruthless in this one. Goodman is also quite good as some sort of crime lord known as Baby Feet. Yeah, there are all kinds of peculiar monikers throughout this film.

It’s a decent enough movie, but there are times it seems a little muddled. I was not clear on the connection between the dead prostitutes and this forty year old murder witnessed by Robicheaux when he was a young lad. I might have to just read the book one day.

Probably mostly due to Tommy Lee’s presence, the film manages to be somewhat engaging, but it isn’t without its rough spots. I guess it leaves me with a mixed reaction with a leaning toward liking it for the most part.

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