The sort of tale Jim Thompson might have spun if he'd mellowed enough for his demons to drift away, leaving only cynical familiarity with the larcenous labyrinth of the human heart. Small-town Carol Ann (Linda Fiorentino) is a one-time prom queen married to high school sweetheart Wayne (Dermot Mulroney) and acutely aware that life's passing her by. Carol Ann doesn't have a plan to get out; just a vague hankering to do something before it's too late. And then along comes geriatric jailbird Henry Manning (Paul Newman), who's suffered a stroke and been transferred from a prison hospital to the nursing home where Carol Ann works. She finds Henry's file stimulating reading Henry was a hugely successful robber who was only caught when a citywide blackout trapped him, mid-heist, in a bank vault and convinces herself that he's not the drooling vegetable he appears. It's giving nothing away to reveal that she's right, or that she persuades him to help her pull off a job. The surprises aren't in the story, but the sly way the three leads dance cautiously around each other's dreams and desires. UK-born director
Marek Kanievska (whose last U.S. movie was 1987's LESS THAN ZERO) brings a very English sense of minginess to the Washington state locations; where most Americans would either exaggerate the miserable muck or art-direct everything up to sitcom brightness, Kanievski presides over a homey threadbareness that perfectly echoes Carol's plight. Her life isn't awful; it's just not very exciting. There's a caper and there are some laughs, but this isn't a larky caper flick; it's a pulpy little story that could at any minute go straight to hell. Maybe it should the ending doesn't really feel like the logical conclusion to what's gone before, but you're not sorry it doesn't.
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- Released: 2000
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: The sort of tale Jim Thompson might have spun if he'd mellowed enough for his demons to drift away, leaving only cynical familiarity with the larcenous labyrinth of the human heart. Small-town Carol Ann (Linda Fiorentino) is a one-time prom queen married t… (more)