The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: Robert Benton

REVIEWED: 03-09-98

It's hard not to regard the title of this tepid noir by Robert Benton as prophetic of the legendary careers of stars Paul Newman and Gene Hackman. In a role reminiscent of Harper and The Drowning Pool, Newman is Harry Ross, private investigator, now retired after an incident involving an accidentally discharged handgun that opens and is the best part of the film. These days he's a live-in assistant at the palatial Hollywood estate of old pal Jack Ames (Hackman), a famous actor now stricken with cancer -- keeping company with his host's still nubile wife, Catherine (Susan Sarandon), who teases Harry by swimming nude in the pool, and their daughter, Mel (a blithely topless Reese Witherspoon), the object of Harry's ill-fated opening-scene adventure, who treats him with disdain.

Jack asks Harry to look into some people who are blackmailing him; What follows is breezy, predictable, and incoherent, with the legendary cast evoking past greatness long enough to underscore the present movie's inadequacies. Among those is Sarandon, who is just too nurturing, too damn liberal, to be a convincing femme fatale. Benton gets the sun-faded LA look down right, but with its inconsequential and sometimes tasteless plot dodderings (was Harry castrated? what will that numbnuts Hispanic chauffeur do next?), Twilight will probably ease its way into early box-office retirement.

--Peter Keough

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Other Films by Robert Benton
Nobody's Fool

Film Vault Suggested Links
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
The General's Daughter
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