Campbell Scott Double Shot: The Dying Gaul and Roger Dodger

This time, Elsa and Dennis double-team Campbell Scott. And you know how we mean that…

Elsa S. Customer suggests The Dying Gaul (in Drama). I spent the first act trying to categorize this film: psychological drama? Love story? Character-driven domestic thriller? Starring three underappreciated powerhouse actors, Campbell Scott, Patricia Clarkson, and Peter Saaaarsgaaaaaard, The Dying Gaul kept me off-balance and guessing for a long while. Aspiring screenwriter Robert Sandrich (Sarsgaard) meets with high-powered Hollywood producer Jeffrey Tishop (Scott), who wants to option Robert’s screenplay… but only if Robert consents to one deeply substantive change. As he wrestles with his guilt over selling out, Robert bonds with Jeffrey’s wife Elaine (Clarkson), herself a disillusioned former screenwriter. The film rotates around the dynamic between the three, but power and money loom large as silent characters in this tale. Campbell Scott plays the serpent with great bonhomie, painting Jeffrey as a man who takes his power, his persuasiveness, and his pleasures as given. Patricia Clarkson walks a delicate line; Elaine’s kindness and compassion balance with potent rage, manipulation, and a deep hunger for vengeance. And it’s such a pleasure to see Sarsgaard exercise his considerable talents playing something other than his recent stable of heavy-lidded crazies, and he’s remarkable here: charming and nervous and sexy and petty and grave.

Dennis suggests Roger Dodger (in Feature Drama). While I remain slightly threatened by the lovely Ms. Customer’s obvious infatuation with Campbell Scott (see Saturday’s review), I gotta admit, the guy’s an interesting actor. He’s got this weird combination of wary intelligence and aloof confidence going, and in this 2002 indie, he adds a layer of brash, boorish charisma to the mix. As the uncle of an innocent teenaged nephew to whom he decides to teach his own jaded, chauvinistic views of sex and women, Scott creates an indelible character, sort of like Aaron Eckhart’s slimy mentor from In the Company of Men, but with a shade more sympathy. Magnetic bastard better keep his hands to himself, is all I’m saying…

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Published in: on June 28, 2009 at 12:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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