"Newman absolutely shines in this great little movie."
What a smooth, understated and quietly hypnotic movie this is! Robert Benton's slyly excellent "Nobody's Fool" (based on the novel by Richard Russo) is not much more than a charming and off-kilter character study.That might not seem like much of a selling point, but when you've got the immortal Paul Newman as the character we're studying - combined with Benton's admirable screenplay - you're looking at a great little "people story" and a movie that deserves a lot more attention than it's earned thus far.
Newman is Sully, a small-town ne'er do well, a perpetual curmudgeon and a full-time cynic. Our first introduction to Sully is as he's in the process of suing an employer for injury wages. That all of the rustic judges and lawyers treat Sully as a local nuisance tells us all we need to know about the setting; all these folks know each other really well. Indeed, Sully will soon have his court case thrown out - yet he'll spend the evening playing poker with the very guy he was trying to sue! (That'd be Bruce Willis, who offers one of his finest dramatic performances to date.)
It's all very picture-postcardy and more than a little quaint. But there's an acidic sense of cynicism that runs through the film, doses of bizarre and unexpected humor that buoy the movie whenever things seem a little too precious. The bulk of the movie deals with Sully's new relationship with his grown son and adorable little grandson; visions of a man grown complacent through loneliness who is, in his autumn years, beginning to show a few cracks in his lone-wolf facade. In the hands of another actor (and a filmmaker less gifted than Benton), Nobody's Fool would doubtlessly end up coming across as Feel Good Treacle mixed with Norman Rockwell sensibilities.
Nobody's Fool offers a hell of a lot more than just Paul Newman at his very best, although that alone would make the flick worthy of your attention. It's a movie that manages to be acerbic and warm at the same time; it's an all-too-rare example of a great old actor getting a role that fits like a rumpled old bathrobe, and it's a slice-of-life tale of small-town friendship that rings true while never forcing the emotion down your throat. Like many of its ilk, Nobody's Fool is quirky and funny and quite touching at its finest moments.But there's a realism and a sincerity on display that indicates a film crafted with some real heart and soul.