Simpatico

In 24 hours, wealthy Kentucky horse breeder Carter Lyle (Jeff Bridges) is selling prized stallion Simpatico, and the last person he wants to hear from is down-and-outer Vinnie Webb (Nick Nolte). So, naturally, Vinnie calls. He's got a problem: a girlfriend (Catherine Keener) who's filed assault charges against him; Vinnie's afraid that if he's arrested...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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In 24 hours, wealthy Kentucky horse breeder Carter Lyle (Jeff Bridges) is selling prized stallion Simpatico, and the last person he wants to hear from is down-and-outer Vinnie Webb (Nick Nolte). So, naturally, Vinnie calls. He's got a problem: a girlfriend

(Catherine Keener) who's filed assault charges against him; Vinnie's afraid that if he's arrested he might panic and tell the police about something very, very bad that he, Carter and Carter's wife, Rosie (Sharon Stone), once did. Maybe Carter could come to run-down Asuza, CA, and help Vinnie

straighten the whole thing out.... Lyle's on the next plane. And while he quickly realizes that Vinnie's jerking his chain, Carter can't afford to have the dark past come bubbling up just now, because he's sitting on another secret, one that could sour the Simpatico deal. As Carter and Vinnie spar

verbally and physically, we learn what binds them together and so tainted their lives. Once upon a time, racetrack brats Vinnie (Shawn Hatosy), Carter (Liam Waite) and Rosie (Kimberly Williams) — then Vinnie's girl — cooked up a sweet little plan to run a fleet-footed ringer in place of

a nag named Heaven Sent. Heaven Sent went off at 50 to 1, and the trio cashed in. California racing commissioner Darryl P. Sims (Albert Finney) saw immediately what they were up to, and they retaliated with a sordid blackmail scheme that ruined Sims's life and, ultimately, their lives as well.

Based on the 1994 play by Sam Shepard and directed by Matthew Warchus, this stylized tale of guilt and retribution is a surprisingly sleek and affecting drama. Sure, it's theatrical, especially as Carter and Vinnie begin to exchange personalities. But the themes of loss and regret ring painfully

true, and the slightly schematic story is enriched by strong performances from all involved.

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