"Worn to perfection" is the tag line promoting this crafted character study. It describes Paul Newman, the resourceful 70-year-old lead actor, but not his character, Sully, a North Bath, New York, loner who totally emulate... more »s the negative definition of the title. Newman gives a brilliant performance (Oscar-nominated and winner of two critics circle awards) relying on his well-honed subtleties. The dramatics are simple: the return of his son (Dylan Walsh) and grandson, offering a chance to reconcile; odd jobs for a construction company he's trying to sue for an injury; and a comedic grudge match against the owner (a reserved Bruce Willis). North Bath is the kind of place, wrapped in winter (beautifully shot by John Bailey), where enemies are friends, marriages are shaky, and Hawaii is only a state of mind. This "town drama" of a blue-collar America offers the patient filmgoer a rich and rewarding experience. Another small gem from writer-director Robert Benton (Places in the Heart). --Doug Thomas« less
This classic nails it in so many ways and hits the grand slam at the end of it. Paul Newman, Bruce Willis, Jessica Tandy, Dylan Walsh and others shine bright in this. A must watch!
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Claudia K. from N ARLINGTON, NJ Reviewed on 11/7/2021...
Can never go wrong with Paul Newman...and the rest of the cast wasn't bad either!
cute story...just what I needed on a night I didn't want anything too intense.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
A Classic and Possibly for the Holidays, Too!
P. M Simon | New Mexico | 11/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Teaser: An unsung classic of a film, deep, heartwarming, and brilliantly acted. Set between Thanksgiving and New Year in snowy upstate NY, the film could be a part of your holiday film library.
Plot: Paul Newman is Donald Sullivan, a 60-year-old odd-job man in a small, hardscrabble town. His tangled web of relationships with sometime employer Bruce Willis, landlady Jessica Tandy, and a host of colorful locals slowly emerges and it turns out that na'er-do-well Sully actually is a vital component of his community.
Acting: Just superb. Newman is at his best and in her final role, Tandy is brilliant. Willis, Melanie Griffith and Pruitt Taylor Vince is full of pathos as best friend Rub Squeers. The supporting cast is also scintillating. Of special note is an early role for Capote star Philip Seymour Hoffman, as local police bumpkin Werner.
Best Feature: The script-- the Newman-Tandy repartee is great and the Newman-Willis dialogue just crackles. There are enough memorable lines to make you want to take notes.
Also of note: Good cinematography lends an authentic ambience and the semi-Celtic soundtrack is pleasant without being manipulative.
Reviewer note: I grew up in the area where this movie was filmed. It's 'on the mark' and looks and feels genuine."
One of the best films you probably haven't seen.
S. Grooms | St Paul, MN USA | 05/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a gem of a movie that never created much of a stir when released. We are accustomed to perfect work from the likes of Paul Newman and Jessica Tandy and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but director gets pitch-perfect performances from Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith (who was never better). Nobody's Fool might not be a great film, but I'd argue that it is a perfect film. A film of character, not action, it opens up with quiet assurance and never puts a foot wrong. The writing is exceptionally intelligent, and you could watch it several times just to enjoy the witty banter between small town friends (including friendly enemies, played by Newman and Willis). But ultimately, there is a very serious point to this unpretentious movie. The big climax is nothing much in a way: Newman decides against running off to Hawaii with Melanie Griffith, but that act is an act of heroism and triumph over himself. He comes to realize, after a life of living just for himself, that he has ties of love and responsibility to several people more important than himself.I don't recommend that you watch this film. I recommend that you buy it and then loan it out to all of the people in your life who mean something to you. They'll thank you for it."
Lucky you, here's a great movie
Mike Stone | 03/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having just finished reading (and reviewing) the book "Nobody's Fool", I had an itch to see the movie again. I remembered it as a warm (an odd adjective considering the snowy setting) and heartbreaking comedy about a man down on his luck, but not down on life. I remembered right.But that description does not do justice to this fine piece of work. Sure, being familiar with the source material, which provides an abundance of background information on the characters, helps. But it is not required reading. For in watching the film again, I realized that it gives you all the information that you need. Not with pages of prosaic exposition, but with a wink, a glance, a grin, and most telling, a sparkle in the eye.The four gestures noted above could come from anyone. But if you're going to do it right, why not go for the best. Paul Newman is perfectly cast as Donald "Sully" Sullivan. He has the combined capacity for the man's dry wit, quick tongue, and emotional sincerity, rolled up in a rugged but worn exterior that's not afraid to show hurt (be it physical or emotional). It's a no-brainer to say that he does a wicked job here. The real questions come with the rest of the cast. They are a hit-or-miss bunch.The "hits" include: Gene Saks (who directed "The Odd Couple", among other movies) as the one-legged attorney who sticks by Sully even though he knows that they make a losing pair; Pruitt Taylor Vince as sidekick Rub, who doesn't come off as pathetic as the character did in the book (how could he!) but pulls of with aplomb his simpleness and his endearing nature; Jessica Tandy as landlady Miss Beryl, who died postproduction and who the film is justifiably dedicated to; and even Bruce Willis, who's smug act I've tired of lately, gamely holds his own in his scenes with Newman.The "misses" include: Dylan Walsh as Sully's son (my antipathy towards his performance may come from the fact that Peter was a darker and smarter character in the book, more akin to his old man; Walsh's Peter is more of a bland young man not fully formed yet); and Melanie Griffith, as the prettiest (and most put-upon) girl in town, is caught once or twice delivering her lines rather than inhabiting her character while she speaks, a sin amplified when compared to Newman's perfect ease of speech. Thankfully, neither of these sub-par performance harmed the film's overall effect in any way.Director/Writer Robert Benton does a fine job of collating Richard Russo's novel into a cohesive movie. The novel, if filmed as is, would have been several days long; there is so much depth and texture there. Benton manages to combine some storylines, excise others that weren't really needed, and still maintain the tone and flavour of the book. In my estimation, what was a monumental task feels like it was pulled off with relative ease. I know that's not the case, that hard work went into the story's deconstruction, but am glad as a member of the audience that it appears that way.Just like it's source, "Nobody's Fool" made me laugh out loud on several occasions, tear up on several others, and the rest of the time left me with a happy grin, in awe at what I was seeing."
Worn to Perfection
Warren Payne | Seattle, WA USA | 08/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It just doesn't get much better than this. The movie is a very true adaptation of the extraordinary book by Richard Russo ("Straight Man," his follow up, is also a must-read) written and directed beautifully by Robert Benton. The casting is perfect, but Paul Newman is the stand out. His attention to the tiny details that bring the part alive is amazing to watch. This movie is guaranteed to please."