36 – Simpatico

This tale centers around a long-ago secret held by two friends and how it affects them here in the present. The title is the name of a thoroughbred racehorse about to be sold by Carter (Jeff Bridges) for millions of dollars. But wouldn’t you know it, the well-to-do Carter gets a phone call from his longtime, ne’er-do-well pal Vinnie (Nick Nolte) with some malarkey about being in trouble and needing Carter to bail him out or else he’ll go to the police with this long-ago secret.

So in a plot more tortuous than a mutant pretzel, Carter flies out to Vinnie from Kentucky to California, hoping to get his friend out of trouble so he can get back to the multimillion-dollar horse deal. Ah, but wouldn’t you know it, life’s just not that simple for Carter. Naturally, Vinnie swipes his car, drives back to the airport, and flies back east to see Carter’s wife Rosie (Sharon Stone), hoping to give her some illicit pictures taken long ago (from the long-ago secret, of course). Why? I don’t know. Does Vinnie think Rosie will be so grateful to get those pictures back (which involve her and a crooked race commissioner, played in the present by Albert Finney) that she’ll leave her husband and hitch up with Vinnie? Picture Nick Nolte looked as disheveled as he did in Down and Out in Beverly Hills. That’s kind of how attractive he was in Simpatico. Quite a visual, isn’t it?

I think there was supposed to be a cat-and-mouse thriller, but there’s no suspense, and therefore no thrills. You take seedy characters, add improbable circumstances and unbelieveable dialog, and you have yourself a recipe for ennui, a real nadir for all involved. Neither of the two males leads is particularly effective, but what was with billing Stone as highly as she was? She doesn’t even make an appearance until the movie’s about two-thirds over, and even then her performance isn’t very good, either. But then again, no one had a decent script with which to work, leaving them to mouth badly written lines.

Simpatico: 3.5


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