The Cooler (2003)

WAYNE KRAMER

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 2003.  ContentFilm, Pierce/Williams Entertainment, Furst Films, Gryphon Films, Dog Pond Productions, Visionbox Pictures, Zero Gravity Management.  Screenplay by , Wayne Kramer.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 2003.  Golden Globe Awards 2003.  Toronto International Film Festival 2003.

Bust out the cigars, folks, cause Mr. Scorsese’s Casino just got itself a brand new baby brother. Three of the most impressive performances of 2003 sparkle in this nifty little gem, overcoming the most familiar aspects of their stock character types and overused setting. The deliciously whimsical storyline stars William H. Macy as a casino “cooler”, a guy whose life is such crap that just putting him near a guy on a winning streak is enough to turn the gambler’s luck sour. This all changes when a sexy waittress (, who truly achieves perfection) falls in love with him and changes everything for the better. Now Macy can’t perform his work, and his old school boss (Alec Baldwin) is willing to do anything to get his favourite employee back in his previous mode. Superstition and a few surprises affect the way things play, and thanks to the fabulous work by the actors, the slick photography and Mark Isham’s terrific score, you’ll have a great time watching it all work out. Baldwin has never been better, portraying an unlikable tough guy whose desperate gasps to preserve the Rat Pack-era Vegas of yesteryear manages to make him more sympathetic than the character was probably meant to be. Whenever Macy and Bello’s perfect chemistry isn’t heating things up, Baldwin’s outstanding supporting performance gives this film all the drive it needs, and it’s just one of the many things worth enjoying in it.

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