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Set against the bright lights of Manhattan, a tale which takes a comic, urbane look at the modern male ego at war in the singles scene trenches. Roger Swanson is a hopelessly cynical advertising copywriter with a razor-sharp wit who believes he has mastered the art of manipulating women. But Roger's seemingly foolproof world of smooth talk and casual sex begins to unravel when he is paid a surprise visit by his teenager nephew, Nick. Hoping to settle, once and for all, the issue of his virginity, Nick begs Roger to school him in the art of seducing women. Welcoming the challenge, Roger guides Nick through the city's wild nightlife for an all-night crash course, only to realize that he--the adult--still has something to learn about what women, and men, really want. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Meet Roger Swanson, the world's most arrogant and chauvinistic SOB. To him, women are inferior and are to be regarded as conquests. Yet as appalling and thoroughly unlikable as Roger is, he's played by Campbell Scott, who's so good that he makes Roger a person who is quite literally addicting to watch.
After getting dumped by his boss, Joyce (Isabella Rossellini), the ultimate player Roger is more than a little peeved. But when his nephew shows up at his office asking for advice on women, Roger takes it upon himself to show the 16 year old how to be the ultimate womanizer.
Needless to say, this film is about Roger. Unless the performance was pitch-perfect, the film would fall flat on its face. Fortunately, indie-film king Campbell Scott is playing him. Campbell Scott is dynamite. With a razor-sharp wit and an arsenal of one-liners, pick-up lines and other assorted ways of getting sex, Roger is compulsively watchable. There's really not much that he says that hasn't been said before, but Scott is so stunning that it doesn't matter. His dialogue is electric, and Scott attacks it with relish. Yet as darkly funny as some of the things he says are, Scott understands all facets of Roger. His scenes with Joyce are some of the most telling about Roger, and arguably some of his most well-acted. He still has the same penchant for one-liners and shocking views on women, but Scott delivers it with anger and frustration.
His co-stars are great as well. Jesse Eisenberg is terrific as his nervous nephew, Nick. He's young and naiive, and Roger is more than happy to enlighten him. Their two targets, Andrea (Elizabeth Berkley) and Sophie (Jennifer Beals) are terrific. Both are gorgeous, and are totally into Nick (and to his surprise, not the least bit into Roger). Andrea has a wit to match Roger's, while Sophie is nice and falls for Nick. Isabella Rossellini is also solid as Joyce, Roger's boss, who is more than a little annoyed with him when he won't let their affair end.
Dylan Kidd has a terrific script. Unfortunately, this was shot on a hand-held camera, which is not the way to shoot it. However, this was probably due to budget constraints. The only scene that doesn't work is the final one. It's out of character for Roger, and thus rings false.
Yet this film is all Campbell Scott. The cast and script may help, but this is his movie. And Campbell Scott is unforgettable in a performance that in a perfect world, would have garnered him an Oscar. We can only hope that in the future the prestigious award will finally come his way.
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