TwilightTwilight (1998)

Starring Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman, James Garner, Stockard Channing, Reese Witherspoon, and Giancarlo Esposito.
Written by Richard Russo and Robert Benton.
Directed by Robert Benton.

Grade: C+

Review by Carlo Cavagna.

There's really not that much to Twilight: it's a pretty basic film noir with some ruminations on growing old thrown in. Thus the title of the film: Twilight. Paul Newman is aging private detective Harry Ross. He works for cancer-stricken movie producer Jack Ames (Gene Hackman) and his movie-star wife Catherine (Susan Sarandon), and lives on their estate. When Ross delivers a package for Ames, he discovers a mortally wounded Lester Ivar, an investigator probing the disappearance of Catherine's first husband twenty years earlier. Ross's curiosity is piqued. He continues Ivar's investigation and discovers that (this being a film noir) everyone has something to hide. Ross, too, has a secret--he harbors an attraction to Catherine.

There's really not that much to Twilight, that is, except for the superb cast. In addition to Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon, Twilight features top-flight supporting actors (including James Garner, Stockard Channing, Giancarlo Esposito, and Reese Witherspoon), who perhaps were drawn by the prospect of working with Paul Newman. The story is reasonably interesting, but it's nothing remarkable and fairly predictable. One could say the same thing about Robert Benton's direction. With a more typical film noir cast (imagine David Caruso, Linda Fiorentino, and the late JT Walsh in the Newman/Sarandon/Hackman roles), Twilight would have been a throw-away movie, but the talented, multiple Oscar-winning cast makes Twilight a pleasure. Paul Newman in particular--he seems to be getting better and better as he gets older, effortlessly portraying the complexities of his character without resorting to any obvious acting. It's difficult to believe he's in his mid-70s; he still looks like he's twenty years younger. Presumably, his character is twenty years younger as well.

Review © March 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Image © 1998 by Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

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