This adaptation of John Gregory Dunne's novel uses its plot base - who cut Lois Fazenda in two? - to explore and draw together the worlds of Tom Spellacy, cynical homicide cop, and his brother Des, priest on the make in the upper reaches of Los Angeles Catholicism in the '40s. Unfortunately, Grosbard's direction is full of overstated cross-cutting and nudging, empty 'references' (to Kiss Me Deadly, Chinatown, The Godfather among others), but never satisfactorily summons up the moral demons haunting his characters. In fact, scriptwriter Dunne (adapting his own novel with wife Joan Didion) is equally guilty, with a tragically schematic reduction of his own excellent novel. Numerous vital characters are dropped and the case-solving stripped of its complexity, with the resulting film over-linear and one-dimensional. The two Roberts (Duvall as cop, De Niro as priest) turn in potentially great performances, but are given precious little to work with.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||John Gregory Dunne, Joan Didion|
|Cast:||Robert De Niro