Berendt's book was an instant success when it arrived in 1994, spending 216 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and garnering praise from critics worldwide. Sadly, Eastwood's cinematic edition didn't fare nearly as well, garnering mixed reviews that amounted to a 50 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert, for example, lauded the director's intentions, but aptly explained where it fell short. "[In his book,] Berendt paints a portrait of a city so eccentric, so dripping with Southern Gothic weirdness, that it can't survive for long when it's removed from the life-support system of our imagination," he wrote, adding, "[The] film is a determined attempt to be faithful to the book's spirit, but something ineffable is lost just by turning on the camera."
categories On The Scene