Sunday, March 22, 2009

3/17/09: Nobody's Fool (1994)

Like Cary Grant, Paul Newman is a film legend whose many screen credits are somehow absent from the long list of movies I've seen. I began to rectify that last month by viewing one of Newman's most enduring classics, The Hustler. Now here he is again, 33 years older but every bit as mesmerizing. In Nobody's Fool, he's "Sully" Sullivan, a down-on-his-luck construction worker with a bad knee and a grown son (Dylan Walsh) who suddenly reappears in his life after a period of estrangement—along with a grandson he's never met. The movie takes place in one of those small towns where everybody knows each other and oddball characters inhabit every corner. We meet Sully's eighth-grade teacher (Jessica Tandy), slow-witted best friend (Pruitt Taylor Vince), one-legged attorney (Gene Saks), occasional employer (Bruce Willis) and the employer's wife (Melanie Griffith), with whom Sully has an ongoing flirtation. All of them play pivotal roles in this variation on the old redemption story; although Sully isn't really a bad guy, he's emotionally unavailable and responsible for nobody, including himself. The story unfolds at a snail's pace, but still manages to be gripping and enthralling throughout—it's a wintertime confection that's shamelessly heartwarming and deeply moving. (Even the title card at the end of the movie, commemorating the passing of actress Jessica Tandy, brings you to tears.) Featuring an early role by future superstar Philip Seymour Hoffman. Rating: 5/5.

No comments: