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Plot: Paul Newman is Donald Sullivan, a 60-year-old odd-job man in a small, hardscrabble town. His tangled web of relationships with sometime employer Bruce Willis, landlady Jessica Tandy, and a host of colorful locals slowly emerges and it turns out that na'er-do-well Sully actually is a vital component of his community.
Acting: Just superb. Newman is at his best and in her final role, Tandy is brilliant. Willis, Melanie Griffith and Pruitt Taylor Vince is full of pathos as best friend Rub Squeers. The supporting cast is also scintillating. Of special note is an early role for Capote star Philip Seymour Hoffman, as local police bumpkin Werner.
Best Feature: The script-- the Newman-Tandy repartee is great and the Newman-Willis dialogue just crackles. There are enough memorable lines to make you want to take notes.
Also of note: Good cinematography lends an authentic ambience and the semi-Celtic soundtrack is pleasant without being manipulative.
Reviewer note: I grew up in the area where this movie was filmed. It's 'on the mark' and looks and feels genuine.
Nobody's Fool might not be a great film, but I'd argue that it is a perfect film. A film of character, not action, it opens up with quiet assurance and never puts a foot wrong. The writing is exceptionally intelligent, and you could watch it several times just to enjoy the witty banter between small town friends (including friendly enemies, played by Newman and Willis). But ultimately, there is a very serious point to this unpretentious movie. The big climax is nothing much in a way: Newman decides against running off to Hawaii with Melanie Griffith, but that act is an act of heroism and triumph over himself. He comes to realize, after a life of living just for himself, that he has ties of love and responsibility to several people more important than himself.
I don't recommend that you watch this film. I recommend that you buy it and then loan it out to all of the people in your life who mean something to you. They'll thank you for it.
But that description does not do justice to this fine piece of work. Sure, being familiar with the source material, which provides an abundance of background information on the characters, helps. But it is not required reading. For in watching the film again, I realized that it gives you all the information that you need. Not with pages of prosaic exposition, but with a wink, a glance, a grin, and most telling, a sparkle in the eye.
The four gestures noted above could come from anyone. But if you're going to do it right, why not go for the best. Paul Newman is perfectly cast as Donald "Sully" Sullivan. He has the combined capacity for the man's dry wit, quick tongue, and emotional sincerity, rolled up in a rugged but worn exterior that's not afraid to show hurt (be it physical or emotional). It's a no-brainer to say that he does a wicked job here. The real questions come with the rest of the cast. They are a hit-or-miss bunch.
The "hits" include: Gene Saks (who directed "The Odd Couple", among other movies) as the one-legged attorney who sticks by Sully even though he knows that they make a losing pair; Pruitt Taylor Vince as sidekick Rub, who doesn't come off as pathetic as the character did in the book (how could he!Read more ›
This movie has everything - great writing, directing, cinematography, acting, etc... Overall, I can't recommend this movie enough. Everyone that I've recommended it to or those that have seen the movie with me absolutely loved it. Also, it is very rare that a movie that's been reviewed as many times as this one has a five star rating. Enjoy!
Further note - February 18, 2009
R.I.P. Paul! Not only were you one hell of an actor, but most importantly, one hell of a human being. This is one of his best roles folks, don't miss it!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely great movie! Paul Newman as usual nailed the role. We usually watch this movie around Christmas; but it is not just about the holidays.Published 4 days ago by Robert B.
Paul and Jessica Tandy and the place where the movie takes place,Bath New York is a well know place I know of its a great settings , I loved it thanks to all.Published 5 days ago by Angelo Pardi