When the New York journalist Jake Bridges catches his girlfriend with another guy, he goes to Atlantic City to drink himself to oblivion. He is saved from a bar brawl by a small-time ... See full summary »
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When the New York journalist Jake Bridges catches his girlfriend with another guy, he goes to Atlantic City to drink himself to oblivion. He is saved from a bar brawl by a small-time mobster Frankie, and Jake falls in love with Frankie's girlfriend Melissa. Jake soon also joins Frankie in his money-collecting duties. Written by
Gunshy offers the implausible story of down-on-his-luck glory-starved writer Jake getting up close and personal with small-time crook Frankie and his legit girlfriend Melissa, and ending up in over his head. It's an uneven attempt at neo-noir which gets the atmosphere right and the characterizations close, but is let down by a script with some clunky dialogue plus the miscasting of the usually reliable William Petersen as Jake. Diane Lane and Michael Wincott are just fine as Melissa and Frankie, but Petersen looks awkward and uncomfortable in a role which requires Jake to demonstrate an obvious intellectual superiority over working-class stiffs Frankie and Melissa, but which portrays him as a bigger chump than anybody else in the picture. The scenes where Jake instructs Frankie in the literary significance of Moby Dick would have been better played out by Abbott and Costello. And scriptwriter Larry Gross must have a fairly healthy opinion of his own intellect when a couple of unexceptional comments written for Jake are heralded by Frankie as wisdoms from a truly great mind. Even someone of Frankie's limited education would hardly be impressed by Jake's superficial mutterings. And really it is the character of Jake that diminishes the impact of the film. His mock self-loathing is a clumsy device masking a large ego fueled by an overdose of self-centered pity. At one point Jake's arrogance is fully realized when he queries what Melissa sees in Frankie - the inference being that she must see that he, Jake, is the man of her dreams. The viewer of course has no such dilemma: Frankie is a nice guy in love with Melissa; Jake is a pathetic loser with tickets on himself who just wants to take Melissa from Frankie to serve his own ends. The plot complicates itself in true noir fashion, as the standard double-crosses come into play. But the plot deviations of Gunshy are not very believable and the denouement is weak and unconvincing. All that aside, there is much to be enjoyed from Gunshy: Diane Lane is good is this type of movie and Michael Wincott steals the honors with a self-deprecating but edgy performance. 7 out of 10.
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