This one builds into the plot the more advanced age of the stars. It works well enough. But i can't recommend it to people who aren't big fans of Newman or Hackman or Sarandon (or a young Reese Witherspoon, for that matter).
And the plot parallels, revolving around a pack of Hollywood old-timers - a retired PI (Newman), his old pal (Garner) and two long-forgotten film stars (Hackman & Sarandon) - who find skeletons suddenly tumbling out of their closets in the evening of their lives. Skeletons that turn them all against one another.
Sarandon's the femme fatale; Channing's the police sergeant chewing yet respecting Newman. Witherspoon's the bratty daughter; her career not yet established, she was surely humbled in such company.
Pacing is slow, characterization is shallow and dialogue isn't sparring exposition, starkly contrasting the genre being honored. Rather the film is intentionally haunted by references to age and past. As such, the viewer is being invited to gently savor what this mature genre was, to admire how aged talented actors ably and easily slip into their roles, to behold how much accomplishment such a twilight can hold.
The camera drifts nostalgically over an LA gone by - Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood Regency lamps, all-night newsstands, Mid-Century architecture - all subtly displayed as also well past their own primes, a part of some long-lost Golden Age.
All of the basic noir elements are here, but they do not entertain, nor were they intended to do so. Instead, the film's not unlike a long quiet moment spent taking in the sunset the title implies - a sunset upon a certain part of Hollywood's past, its talent and one of its most admired genres.
RECOMMENDATION: For film buffs, well spent meditation.
This film comes so close to being excellent, but not quite close enough. Newman is an over-the-hill ex-cop turned go-fer for his two retired-actor best friends (Hackman and Sarandon). When Newman stumbles on a murder, we find that there's still some life in this seemingly dead old man. The only problem is, the film doesn't allow Newman to come to the realization that it ain't over until it's over. Thus, the supple film noir visuals and serviceable whodunit plot are left floundering without a theme to motivate them. Twilight has fallen and it can't get up.
This film kind of depresses me, as it was an opportunity to make a fairly strong Noir with a mature cast, yet really comes up short when assessed in it's entirety.