Review by Gordon Justesen
Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Melanie Griffith
Director: Robert Benton
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Length: 110 Minutes
Release Date: September 9, 2003
it bother you that you haven't done more with the life God gave you?”
often…now and then.”
By now, everyone
who is as every bit appreciative of cinema as I am knows that Paul Newman is
nothing short of a cinematic, and American, icon. This is a notion that Nobody's
Fool, the actor's 52nd feature, celebrates within every minute
of its running time. Newman is simply one of the strongest actors of our time,
and this film, which resulted in a much deserved Oscar nod for Best Actor,
proves it. It shows Newman in what his perhaps his most unlikely screen
characterization of his career. For someone who's made a legacy of
serious-toned performance, not even the heaviest fan of Newman's could've
prepared for what is the actor's most eccentric performance yet.
Newman plays Donald
“Sully” Sullivan, a sixty year old man who has still yet to become a one
hundred percent mature adult. Currently jobless, and living upstairs in a home
owned by the friendly Ms. Beryl (Jessica Tandy), Sully endures a day to day life
of doing nothing of sheer importance to himself or those around him. He has
closed off contact with both his son and his ex-wife.
jobless simply because he finds it hard to keep a steady job. Every so often, he
is handed down odd jobs by local contractor Carl Roebuck (Bruce Willis). Sully
cannot stand the sight of Carl, mostly because he has been trying to bring up a
lawsuit for years claiming that Carl owes him pay he was deserved following a
knee injury that left the old man with a limp. Carl, who isn't much respectful
of Sully, hires him on because he knows he can get the job done. It also gives
Sully an opportunity to bring along his mentally slow friend, Rub (Pruitt Taylor
Vince) to help out on several jobs.
Elements of the
past soon find their way back into Sully's life. His son, Peter (Dylan Walsh),
arrives in town just in time for Thanksgiving, along with his two young sons.
Peter, a college professor, is going through a marriage break up of his own,
which in turn triggers memories, in particular the one when Sully walked out on
his wife and Peter, who was only one year old at the time. Even in the midst of
a harsh reunion, Peter feels obligated to turn to his father during a hard time.
On the side, Sully
still has time to flirt with attractive women. His primary interest of
attraction is Toby (Melanie Griffith), who just so happens to be the wife of his
nemesis, Carl. The relationship never really blossoms, and yet one of the
pleasures of the film is how it acknowledges the potential romance between the
For my money, Nobody's
Fool is quite simply one of the most outstanding character pieces of the
past decade. Newman is at his unyielding best in a tour de force that ranks with
his greatest performances, such as The
Verdict and The Hustler. Even
Newman himself has said to be extremely proud of this film, so you know that's
saying something. And he has every right to be proud.
and directed by Robert Benton (Kramer vs.
Kramer), Nobody's Fool is, if
anything, a beautifully executed celebration of one of the screen's most
dynamic actors. Paul Newman, prior to this, had never played a character like
Sully Sullivan, a brilliant exercise in humility, and for Newman to take on the
role of such a person is a brave one indeed.
To be quite honest,
I had my fingers crossed on the turnout of this presentation, and after watching
it, I can honestly say that Paramount has delivered quite a remarkable look of a
disc. It was a while since I last saw this picture, and I had forgotten how
stunning the scenery was. Shot on location in the snowy landscapes of New York
State, the anamorphic picture makes tremendously wonderful use of the
snow-filled scenery. Image is impressively detailed, give an inch of grain or
two, and remains a great deal crisp and clear throughout the presentation. Well
done job, indeed!
This is strictly a
dialogue-driven film, nothing more and nothing less. Having said that, I feel
that the 5.1 track provided did the best it could in delivering a good instance
of sound quality. Dialogue is heard very well, as expected, and several set
pieces get some slight good sound range, though for the most part all action is
limited to the front area.