As youths in Azusa, Vinnie, Carter, and Rosie pull off a racing scam, substituting winners for plodders and winning big bucks on long odds. When an official uncovers the scam, they set him up for blackmail. Jump ahead twenty years, Carter and Rosie are married, successful racers in Kentucky about to sell their prize stallion, Simpatico. Vinnie is a drunk in Pomona. Vinnie decides to make a play for Rosie, lures Carter to California, steals his wallet and heads for Kentucky with the original blackmail material. Carter begs Vinnie's friend, a grocery clerk named Cecilia, to follow Vinnie and get the stuff back that he has in a box. Will she succeed?
Infertiile Neo-Noir? Simpatico is directed by Matthew Warchus and Warchus co-adapts the screenplay with David Nicholls from the play written by Sam Shepard. It stars Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges, Sharon Stone, Catharine Keener and Albert Finney. Music is by Stewart Copeland and cinematography is by John Toll. Three young confidence tricksters have orchestrated a horse racing scam tat is making them big money. However, when the scam is unearthed by a top official they set him up for blackmail and make off into the sun. Twenty years later the three of them are brought together by circumstance and the time of emotional reckoning… It was met with disdain by critics and film goers alike, and even now some 20 years after it was first released it holds below average ratings on the main internet film sites. Is this fair? Does it at the least deserve to be revisited and re-evaluated on its neo-noir character driven terms? Well sort of… Off the bat it deserves better scores than those afforded it on line purely for the acting alone, this is a high grade group of actors breathing life into damaged characters. Very much a talky character driven piece (stage origins boom out from the off), the screenplay does have a deft potency about it, dealing as it does about shame and guilt and the foundation of success built out of financial gain, with the kicker being the long term repercussions of youthful criminality. Dialogue is often sparky (helps being delivered by those fine actors of course), Toll’s cinematography around the Kentucky locales is beautiful, and come the final resolutions to the main characters journey we get a huge emotionally metaphorical whack. However, there’s an overuse of the flashback structure to show us the principals in their younger scamming – life altering – days (played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Shawn Hatosy and Liam Waite). Annoyingly there’s also the puzzling question hanging over the play as to if this is a simple life story of errors never mended – of cheats prospering only to fall at the later in life hurdle? Or is this attempting to be a complex study of the human condition? Maybe even giving us a stark warning, a message piece if you will. Of course, maybe that’s Shepard’s thing? to not have definite answers? Either way it’s a little frustrating to not have an absolute with such a strong character piece. It’s hardly a must see recommended picture, that’s for sure, in fact Warchus’ first time direction away from the actors is uncomfortably staid. Yet there’s some nice craft here, and a tantalising “more than meets the eye” question mark that keeps you interested if you be so inclined to stick with it. Infertile or interesting? 6/10