Twilight (1998) starring Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman, Reese Witherspoon, Stockard Channing, James Garner directed by Robert Benton Movie Review

Twilight (1998)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Paul Newman and James Garner in Twilight (1998)

Twilight with Sex and Nudity

For those who hear the name "Twilight" and think of the teen vamp fest from 2008 should realise that there are other movies called "Twilight" one of which is the 1998 crime drama starring Paul Newman, Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon. Now to be blunt "Twilight" is not a great movie considering the amount of talent involved as on top of this trio there is also Stockard Channing and Reese Witherspoon in the cast. But whilst not a great movie and one which is full of issues especially an over contrived who dunnit storyline it still entertains and not just because we have a naked Susan Sarandon and a topless Reese Witherspoon.

2 years after getting shot whilst tracking down and returning Mel Ames (Reese Witherspoon) from Mexico, former Private Investigator Harry Ross (Paul Newman - The Hudsucker Proxy) now lives with the Ames family having become friends of former actor Jack (Gene Hackman) and his flirtatious actress wife Catherine (Susan Sarandon - Little Women). But when Jack asks Harry to deliver a package for him he finds himself drawn into an old case concerning the mysterious disappearance of Catherine's first husband. And it also brings him to the attention of the police and former friends including Lt. Verna Hollander (Stockard Channing) and former partner Raymond Hope (James Garner - Maverick) who use to work for Jack as security.

Paul Newman and Susan Sarandon in Twilight (1998)

One of the issues with "Twilight" is the sense that it comes over as an uneasy blend of mix of styles. When it opens up and we are introduced to Harry Ross trying to track down 17 year old Mel Ames in Mexico, it almost feels jokey whilst also cheap titillation as we have Reese Witherspoon walking around topless. But then once this intro is done with we then have an element of film-noir as we jump 2 years and Harry being interviewed by cops, we have that narration element where we learn about his troubled past. And on top of this we have an element of modern film-noir or sexy noir as we also meet Jack and Catherine Ames who Harry lives with and who Catherine flirts with, climbing naked out of the pool. It is a blend of styles which doesn't gel and keeps on flitting between them through out the entire movie, a bit of sexy flirting followed some film noir style narration followed by a slight touch of humour.

And in many ways it is this uneasy blend which has a negative knock on effect when it comes to the story because it makes it feel contrived. Contrived is not the only issue as in order to make this who dunnit more interesting we have a lot of characters and even more contrivances. But basically we watch how Harry ends up doing a favour for Jack and ends up investigating a case from 20 years ago as people die and he gets shot at. It's not the easiest of storylines to follow and as so often is the case in this sort of crime stories suddenly everything falls in to place for a final showdown.

But the irony is that whilst "Twilight" has numerous issues, and you get to the point where you stop trying to follow the clues, it is still entertaining thanks to the cast. Paul Newman whilst not delivering his finest performance still entertains in an effortless way, being charming but dangerous. Susan Sarandon gives us super sexy and dangerous as Catherine whilst Reese Witherspoon gives us teen anger as her step daughter. Throw in performances from Stockard Channing, James Garner, Liev Schreiber and Gene Hackman and you basically have a good cast who deliver enjoyable performances despite flawed characters.

What this all boils down to is that "Twilight" is not a good movie considering the talented cast and suffers from various flaws but most notably from being a mixture of styles which don't work. Yet thanks to the calibre of cast as well as some of the movies lighter moments it still entertains, not so much when it comes to the solving of the crime but in that some of the stupidity puts a smile on your face.