There's a nice underlying ripple of humor in the senior citizenship of this movie.
"Twilight" is an atmospheric period piece that plays second fiddle to its star power. If the murder mystery at hand isn't necessarily compelling, it doesn't matter. No victim could be as interesting as the people who are still dealing with the fallout from the murder--not when those people are Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman, and Stockard Channing. That's a cast that lights the screen.
Harry Ross (Paul Newman) narrates the film in the world-weary voice of a retired detective. He is that wonderful gift from the 40s: a detective with a conscience, a romantic idealist in the body of a needy guy gone to seed, an observer with the gift of pithy observation.
Harry is the live-in, loyal friend of Jack Ames (Gene Hackman) and his dazzling wife Catherine (Susan Sarandon), a pair of former movie stars living the good life among their expensive bibelots in a power house beside a brilliant pool. When Jack asks Harry to deliver a package, Harry is yanked from retirement and dropped into a blackmail scheme. By this time the tired plot has already become subordinate to the players, who are having a marvelous time building genuine characters.
And so we meet Catherine (Susan Sarandon), Jack's sensual, selfish wife enveloped in her own mystery. Who is this woman? Does she love Jack? Harry? And we meet Raymond (James Garner), friend to some, former friend to others, living in his own hillside luxury. And there's Verna (Stockard Channing), once Harry's lover, now a police lieutenant. And Reuben (Giancarlo Esposito), an inept limo driver with higher aspirations: he wants to be Harry's sidekick, his backup.
There's a nice underlying ripple of humor in the senior citizenship of this movie. Raymond's health won't allow him to smoke; Harry is a recovering alcoholic who can't drink; Jack has a disease. But what a group they are.
With his debonair fatalism, James Garner can still make any line a laugh. The Paul Newman magic melts the theater in one scene when he shifts in a second from despair to laughter. Gene Hackman brings his edgy, threatening self to every line. Susan Sarandon is glorious as the enigmatic beauty who is a magnet for the love of the men she lives with. Stockard Channing, as is her way, creates a very important person in a fairly small role. Her Verna is slightly shopworn, appealing, sharp--unique. Each of these accomplished actors gives the others plenty of room. They seem to like each other.
The movie is a conversation among friends whose intelligence and beauty and privileged lifestyle are givens. They are comfortable with what they have. As they watch their lives unravel, they are buffeted by the demands of friendship and loyalty. This is a movie about people, a detective story driven not by clues, but by character. Four magnetic, intelligent actors reveal layer after layer of the characters they are building. Watching them do it is one terrific evening.
Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 499
Studio : Paramount Pictures
Rating : R
Running Time: 1h39m
Copyright (c) Illusion
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