A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Before a concert, the orchestra members warm up by playing snatches of difficult passages from familiar scores. "Twilight" is a movie that feels like that: The filmmakers, seasoned professionals, perform familiar scenes from the world of film noir. They do riffs, they noodle a little, they provide snatches from famous arias. But the curtain never goes up.
The reason to see the film is to observe how relaxed and serene Paul Newman is before the camera. How, at 73, he has absorbed everything he needs to know about how to be a movie actor, so that at every moment he is at home in his skin, and the skin of his character. It's sad to see all that assurance used in the service of a plot so worn and mechanical. Marcello Mastroianni, who in his humor, ease and sex appeal resembled Newman, chose more challenging projects at a similar stage in his life.
The other veterans in the cast are Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon and James Garner. They know as much about acting as Newman does, although the film gives them fewer opportunities to display it. Garner, indeed, is the man to call if you need an actor who can slip beneath even Newman's level of comfortability. But the movie's story is too obvious in its message, and too absurd in its plotting.
The message: The characters are nearing the end of the line. They know the moves but are losing the daylight. "Your prostate started acting up yet?" Garner asks Newman. After Newman's detective character is shot in the groin, the rumor goes around that he's no longer a candidate for the full monty. What kind of a private eye doesn't have any privates? For all of the characters, this is the last hurrah, and that's especially true for Hackman's, who is dying of cancer.