<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5Rate this
Time Out saysThough Robert Benton's film may not be as richly rewarding as underrated Nobody's Fool, it does share the earlier film's its leading actor (Newman) and writer (Richard Russo), and its gentle, semi-comic humanism which investigates the themes of ageing and failure while paying tribute to the enduring virtues of honour and friendship. It tells the labyrinthine but fundamentally familiar noir story of a private dick - ex-cop, ex-husband and father, and ex-drunk Harry Ross (Newman) - getting entangled in a web of blackmail, corruption and murder after he reluctantly agrees to deliver an envelope for his former movie-star pal Jack (Hackman). But friendship, it seems, has its limits: not only is Harry, who lodges with and works as a handyman for the cancer-stricken Jack and his wife Catherine (Sarandon), ready to indulge his long-harboured desires for the latter, but when he delivers Jack's package to the mysterious Gloria, he finds instead a dying man. If there's nothing particularly original about Benton's film, there's still much to enjoy - notably, a crop of solid, charismatic performances and cameraman Piotr Sobocinski's restoration LA to its near-mythic noir glory. Far from breeding contempt, familiarity here produces its own peculiar pleasures. Indeed, what makes the film satisfying is its quiet, effortless assurance, as easy-going as in a late Hawks movie. Modest, intelligent and very engaging.