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One Night At McCool's Review

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Slacker Randy, smug Carl and lonely widower Detective Dehling all recount their fateful meetings on the same night, in the same bar, with dangerous beauty Jewel…

★★★★

Summarised with a straight face this is a primo film noir plot, but it's thrown into a tumbler with screwball complications and sex farce, resulting in a very cool, sly comedy thriller of one femme fatale and three chumps.

McCall's is the first film from Michael Douglas' new independent production company, Further Films, and he demonstrates his confidence in it with a generously supportive performance, looking unbelievably awful in toupee and sideburns. His Mr. Burmeister is a sleazy hitman who hangs out in a bingo hall while half-listening to prospective client Randy's sorry tale of a tart in a red dress, a speedy seduction and the catalogue of disaster and home improvements that came with her. Jewel is Randy's bane and he wants her dead.

Meanwhile, Randy's cousin Carl tells his story - of the same woman, night and bar, but with an alternate, egocentric view of how things have gone down - to a psychiatrist who can barely conceal her contempt for his kinky delusions. Jewel is Carl's whore and he wants her in bed. And saddo cop Charlie Dehling, who first laid eyes on Jewel - and instantly invested her with the qualities of his dead wife - at the bar that night, bares his soul to a priest (Richard Jenkins) avid for juicy details. Jewel is Charlie's angel and he wants to get wed.

As the catalyst for all this male idiocy, Jewel is a con artist more impulsively than methodically exploiting her flagrant assets to get what she wants. And what she wants most is a humble enough dream, a home of her own, decorated to her frightful taste. Unfortunately for her kamikaze patsies, it's vital that Jewel's appropriated haven has all the mod cons - even if she has to tear such goodies from dead men while placating the troika of troublesome stooges.

All the men are good, Reiser delighting in a swinish reversal of his cuddly sitcom husband persona, and Dillon adeptly playing Randy as both the despairing victim of his hormones and the vicious brute Dehling wants to think he is.

Tyler does a tremendous job in what are essentially multiple roles (wittily signalled by costume alterations): Dehling's tremulous innocent who is pretty in pink, Carl's scantily-clad slut, and Randy's passive-aggressive siren who shops, irons and does DIY between planning burglaries, shagging like a bunny and skipping over the bodies of redundant lovers.

Cool, smart and wickedly funny, making it particularly sad that writer Seidel died last summer. Director Zwart lets the story dictate the style and does a neat job juggling tones and colours; keeping alternate flashbacks, characterisations and vying point