Film: Nobody’s Fool


Cast includes: Paul Newman (The Verdict), Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy), Bruce Willis (Die Hard), Melanie Griffith (Working Girl), Josef Sommer (Patch Adams), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heavy), Dylan Walsh (Power Play)
Screenplay/direction: Robert Benton (The Human Stain)
Novel: Richard Russo (Empire Falls)
Genre: Humorous drama (1994)

In brief: “You’re a man among men, Sully.” And that’s certainly true. But Sully has issues. With a bum knee, it’s hard for him to get construction work… not that he’ll ever work for Carl (aka: Dummy) again. Dummy owes him money, and besides… if Sully wins his lawsuit against Dummy, he’ll be rich. The lawsuit isn’t looking so promising however… Sully’s got the dumbest one-legged lawyer in town. “That’s because you can’t afford a two-legged lawyer,” his lawyer tells him. But Sully still works for Dummy when he can… and flirts with Dummy’s beautiful wife non-stop. Sully’s son, Rob, and family are back in town for “the Thanksgiving from hell” at Mom’s, Sully’s ex-wife. Sully’s landlady and former 3rd grade teacher wants to know, “Does it ever bother you that you haven’t done more with the life God gave you?” “Not often… now and then,” Sully says.

Sully may have left his wife and son long ago, but the town of Bath in upstate New York is one big extended family. While Sully hasn’t made much of his life so far… and though it’s a long shot… hope springs eternal. But what a slow start he’s off to! Sully’s attitude changes… if only a little… when his son Rob tells him his wife has left him. “Sometimes I think you did the smart thing… running away.”

Like Richard Russo’s Empire Falls, Nobody’s Fool is a web of interrelated story lines and interesting, eccentric characters. Not many writers could weave such a finely crafted plot out of so many strands. And then there’s the dialog… nobody does it like Russo, which may explain why Paul Newman also agreed to star in Russo’s next film, Twilight. Nobody’s Fool may well be Newman’s best acting performance of his later career. In fact, the performances are first rate just about all around. It’s a gentle, wonderfully developed story of quirky small-town life and a character who is reluctantly at the center of everything. Betting on Sully may be like betting on a long shot, but even the trifecta has to hit sometime.

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

Popped kernels for a wonderful adaption of the R Russo story. Excellent script... both story and word crafting. Excellent acting, especially Paul Newman. Hard to say enough good things about this one.

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