Sunday, December 28, 2003

The Cooler (IMDB) (Netflix)
William H. Macy is Bernie, the unluckiest guy on the planet, who has turned his karmic lemons into career lemonade in Las Vegas, by being a "cooler"—the guy who derails your string of good rolls of the dice and keeps the house in the black. Alec Baldwin is the old-school casino owner who has the goods on Bernie, and Maria Bello is the girl who turns things around for him, with results both comical and potentially tragic.

This is a much more violent film than the previews imply, which was somewhat jarring. The characters are broadly drawn, but so well acted that you almost don't notice (this insight courtesy of Sara K.). Bello in particular was impressive, by being at times winsome and desparate, then endearing and tough as a streetwalker ten years past her prime. With accurate expectations going in, a reasonable choice in the same vein as True Romance.