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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? Written by
Tale of long-past racing scam resurfacing to change the diverse lives of its perpetrators and victims isn't particularly subtle, with transformations and transferences flying around like abandoned betting slips, but it's very well acted by a dream cast (no less engaging for the fact that they don't all seem to be in quite the same film) and never loses its basic finesse. In its early stretches, as the pieces of the plot fall into place, the film builds a highly effective sense of escalating jeopardy, and the initial gambits on the theme of identity and impermanence are effective, leveling out a bit as thematic considerations seem to overtake the characters. Still, it has a sleek poise, and debuting director Warchus shows a distinct nose for the finish line - the film's closing scenes seem about right on their own terms, even if you're not sure about all the stuff that led you there (the horse Simpatico for instance seems ultimately to be carrying more symbolic weight than the course of the film supports).
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