January 11, 2008 -- This is one of the southern-fried murder mysteries along the lines of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” that I can't resist, so be warned that you might not like it as well as I did.
Carter Page III (played by Woody Harrelson of “A Scanner Darkly”) is a Walker, a gentleman who escorts rich ladies to various social events. A man with a good education and a respected family, Carter has fallen on hard times. He gets by with a couple of part-time jobs and clever conversation with the ladies he escorts. The film opens with Carter playing cards with three rich ladies at an upscale Washington D.C.-area social club. The ladies are Lynn Lockner (Kristin Scott Thomas of “Keeping Mum”), Natalie Van Miter (Lauren Bacall of “Birth”) and Abigail Delorean (Lily Tomlin of “A Prairie Home Companion”). While Carter is in the process of escorting Lockner home from a tryst with her lover, Robbie Kononsberg (Steven Hartley of “A Dog of Flanders”), Lockner tells him that Robbie has been stabbed to death. Carter agrees to cover for her since Lockner's husband, Larry (Willem Dafoe of “Inside Man”), is a United States Senator and the family doesn't need this kind of scandal. When a neighbor sees him emerge from Robbie's house, he is obliged to call the police.
Carter immediately finds himself in trouble since he is an easily available suspect. Robbie, an investment advisor, gave Carter some bad investment advice, which cost him a lot of money. A federal prosecutor finds out about the affair between Lockner and Robbie and begins pushing Carter for more details. The prosecutor doesn't disguise his contempt for Carter, a gay man who makes his living off his well-bred social contacts. Carter, however, doesn't fold. He steadfastly refuses to implicate Lockner in the crime. Carter, not getting any help from the authorities, begins his own investigation with the aid of his gay lover, Emek Yoglu (Moritz Bleibtreu of “Munich”).
The two are soon threatened by the powers that be in Washington. They are told to stop their investigation of the murder, which leads them to some of Washington's top power brokers. The story glides slowly but easily toward its conclusion. Carter finds he has an inner strength. He stands up for himself and his friends, the way his father, a member of Congress, is famous for having done in the Watergate hearings. Confused, Lockner asks Carter why he stood up for her, even when he wasn't sure she was innocent. The answer is, Carter didn't put himself at risk for her, he did it for himself. Lockner wasn't worth the risk, but Carter needed to do this for his own sense of pride, his own sense of manhood. Carter turns out to be a lot more than just a gay walker. He's a man of principle. This film rates a B.
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