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|Index||89 reviews in total|
Newman uses a lifetime of acting experience to give a burnished, affecting
portrayal of Sully, a dysfunctional father and husband who is basically
well-intentioned but has never been able to connect with anyone or live up
to his responsibilities. His family arrives back in town and he begins the
long-delayed process of reconnecting with his son and grandsons.
Like "Mr. & Mrs. Bridge" of a few years back, this is a low-key, slice-of-life drama, a type of film that can be deadly dull in the wrong hands but which in this case, under director Robert Benton's guidance, and aided by a fabulous script and wonderful cast, is totally engrossing.
The script is spare and lean and all the more effective for that. It never goes for heavy emotional effects, but makes its points in a powerfully understated way. The many moments of humor stand out in high relief. Excellent acting all around (this was one of Jessica Tandy's last films; also in the cast are Bruce Willis, a better actor than he is generally given credit for, and Melanie Griffith). The feeling of life in a down-at-the-heels northeast U.S. town in midwinter is superbly brought across; the movie has a real 'lived-in' atmosphere.
A definite A+.
It's next to impossible not to like Paul Newman on screen, so it's a tremendous active achievement when he plays an unsympathetic character. Sully, his greatest role since "Hud," depicts Newman at his worst and thus at his best. Tom Hanks was remarkable in "Forrest Gump," but Newman deserved the 1994 Best Actor Oscar for "Nobody's Fool." The movie's greatness lies in the relationships between Newman and two other characters. Jessica Tandy is closer to Newman than her own son, played by Josef Sommer (who it's revealed is a white-collar crook and thus a bigger scoundrel than Sully, whom he despises). Likewise, Newman connects easier with co-worker Rub than with his own son, who can't see beyond his father's betrayal during a wayward youth. The reconciliation between Sully and Rub on a back porch may be the greatest of Newman's career ("Peter's my son. You're my best friend," Sully says in terms that even the slow-thinking Rub can grasp instantly). Robert Benton, who also directed the heartwarming "Places in the Heart," gives us an equally personal, but more disciplined work. He assembles A-list performers (Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith are magnetic on screen), gives them marvelous dialogue ("You're a man among men," Griffith tells Newman twice in the movie but with different meanings) and melts our hearts. But acting honors go to Newman, whose complex Sully becomes if not loving, then at least a responsible, functioning, vital member of the human race. And, in the end, nobody's fool.
In my eyes quite possibly one of the most perfect movies ever made with a stellar cast acting as you would expect them to when you want them to and acting completely out of character when you'd least expect it and enjoy it most. Look for a brilliant Melanie Griffith, a brilliant Bruce Willis, a fantastic ensemble all around, and at the centre the wonderful Jessica Tandy and the immortal Paul Newman in the role of his life. There is a point to this movie, painted in such subtle brush strokes that you just have to exclude all else and - what can I say - enjoy it, and let it warm your heart.
Paul Newman's (Oscar-nominated) amazing performance as a small-town man who tries to bring his somewhat meaningless life together is a real triumph in this fine motion picture from director Robert Benton. Newman is exploited throughout by boss Bruce Willis, but takes it all in stride as he flirts with Willis' beautiful wife (Melanie Griffith). When son Dylan Walsh and his family moves back to town, Newman must finally come to terms with his family and take responsibilities that he has ignored for the duration of his life. Jessica Tandy shines in her swan song. A really great homage to Newman, one of Hollywood's very best from any era. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
I can feel this movie deep inside. It is a reflection of the type of characters I have known and it relates well to real life situations that every working stiff goes through. Newman easily fits the character of Sully. Haven't most people seen these characters in any town anywhere in this country. The production is well performed by all and has good locations. There is just enough humor in it so that it balances the harder things in life. A chance to laugh at frailties and unsung heroes. I get the feeling that I am right there with these guys and would like to cry in my beer with them. It is worth watching over and over and it could almost become a seasonal classic. I have given this movie to friends as a gift and recommend it highly.
Paul Newman is "Nobody's Fool" in this 1994 film also starring Jessica
Tandy, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, Dylan Walsh and Philip Seymour
Hoffman. Newman magnificently portrays Sully, a 60-year-old man living
in a small town in upstate New York. He has a bad knee; he's suing his
boss, the hard living Carl Roebuck (Bruce Willis) for back wages; he
flirts with the boss' wife Toby (Melanie Griffith); he rents from his
old school teacher Beryl Peoples (Jessica Tandy) who depends on him; he
plays poker and drinks at the local bar; and he plays the Trifecta
every day. When his son Peter (Dylan Walsh) comes to town, Sully has to
come face to face with the man he abandoned as a child, as well as his
ex-wife. (The scene where he sneaks out of her house as everyone
screams at each other is a riot.) He gets to know his little grandson,
bonding with him as he never did the boy's father. Sully, who in his
own way has been taking care of a lot of people in town - and driving
some other ones crazy - learns the importance of a family connection
and what it entails.
A marvelous script, a marvelous cast, great direction by Robert Benton - "Nobody's Fool" is a small movie with a big message about life. Newman portrays Sully with all of his complexities. He's more a son to Beryl than her own son. He takes care of his workmate Grub (Pruitt Taylor Vance) as he never did his own son. He is there for Toby as she talks about Carl's infidelities, but he was never there for his own wife. What's most wonderful about the script is how character-driven it is and how all its messages come out of the characters. The audience is not beaten over the head with them. When Sully speaks bitterly about his late father, he turns to Peter and says, "That's what you'll say about me when I'm gone." "You were gone, dad," Peter says. "I've already said it." Yet the two men try, without ever verbalizing that they are trying. He's there for Tandy, without a sentimental scene.
Tandy is excellent as a woman who fears the loss of her independence, and fans of Nip/Tuck will get a kick out of seeing Dylan Walsh as he was 14 years ago with his mop of hair. He does very well in his role. Bruce Willis is amazing - relaxed, funny, cheating with a smile. Philip Seymour Hoffman, before stardom hit, has a hilarious role as a policeman trying to nail Sully and not having much luck.
You can't really call what Newman does acting because you won't catch him doing it - he just IS Sully. He creates an unforgettable character in this must-see film.
What a gem! Apparently this film did have a theatrical run, but I had never heard of it until I saw it on cable a few years ago. Paul Newman was, as always, masterful. So was Jessica Tandy. As unlikeable as Bruce Willis is, he is a great actor and does very well here. And even though it was a fairly small part, I think this is Melanie Griffith's best work ever. The script, directing, everything came together seamlessly. I highly rcommend this film. Grade: A
Newman is acting just perfectly in this small town movie in his role as a 60 years old man who has not achieved much in his life, but begins to realize this when his son, whom he hasn't seen since he left his family, shows up with his kids, Newman's grandsons. The complicated (or maybe not so complicated) married life of Willis and Griffith add to the plot. Some quite witty scenes and lines make you laugh heartily, although the film's general tone is more on the serious side.
This movie has to be Paul Newman's most enjoyable, best acted, and heartwarming movie. Everyone works very well together, and give great performances(with the exception of Melanie Griffith, who thank god only had a small role!). Many heartwarming scenes between Newman and his Grandson. Also some funny moments(especially when Newman kept on steeling Bruce Willis' snowblower. This is a great movie to watch if you like Paul Newman or anyone else in the cast, or just like heartwarming films about family. ****1/2 ot of *****
Sure, he's done a lot of other huge movies and lived a full life as a
racing driver and a working philanthropist, but to me none of his work
in the movies or on stage compares to this perfect swan-song film of
1994, Nobody's Fool. The nice thing about movies is that to appreciate
them you only have to receive them: who cares how they come about or
who makes it possible? (Tho of course we do care.) What distinguishes
Nobody's Foolnot to mention it is literally Jessica Tandy's final
filmis how the lead character Donald 'Sully' Sullivan is more like
Paul Newman, the real person, than any other he's done (IMHO).
For my complete review of this movie and for other movie and book reviews, please visit my site TheCoffeeCoaster.com.
Brian Wright Copyright 2008
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