Sully is a rascally ne'er-do-well approaching retirement age. While he is pressing a worker's compensation suit for a bad knee, he secretly works for his nemesis, Carl, and flirts with Carl's young wife Toby
Its fair to say that not much happens in Robert Bentons first directorial outing since the disastrous Billy Bathgate. Indeed, those seeking their Friday night kicks from a short sharp burst of action would be advised to look elsewhere. Everybody else, however, should ready their purses for this mesmerising, magical portrait of smalltown America, dominated by a performance from Paul Newman so outstanding it must surely make him front-runner to hoist the Best Actor statuette come Oscar night.
Newman is Donald Sully Sullivan, a 60-year-old construction worker who has somehow managed to side-step life, especially now that a building site accident has left him with a crook knee, rendering him virtually unemployable. Having walked out on his family and baby son years ago, his life now revolves around his God-fearing landlady Miss Beryl (Tandy), his boss (an uncredited Bruce Willis) whom he holds responsible for his incapacity, and his bosss wife (Griffith) with whom he is conducting a strangely asexual affair. Until his now grown-up son (Dylan Walsh) and docile grandson appear on the scene, giving Sully the opportunity to put the past behind him and let that huge, golden heart of his out of its cage.
While the entire cast are to be commended, this is ultimately Newmans film. The actor is so utterly convincing as the cynical, time-worn Sully that he literally becomes him, bringing an unseen but oh-so perceptible layer of warmth and a suprising amount of wry humour to the role and turning what could have been a routine character piece into a riveting examination of shattered dreams, human failings and the basic need for love.
Unfortunately co-star, the glowing Tandy, in one of her last film roles, seems underused, continually being handed potentially interesting sub-plots which fizzle away to nothing. That aside, Nobodys Fool is an unprecedented treat, populated with charming, believable characters and a parting shot so beautiful even the hardest of hearts will melt helplessly at its sight.
Heartbreaking, low-key drama