Dodger is from an exceptional script by first-timer Dylan Kidd, who
also directed. Roger
Swanson (Campbell Scott) is a 40ish swinging New York City bachelor
who is a regular in the singles bar scene. Heís visited by his 16-year-old high school nephew, Nick
(Jesse Eisenberg), who wants to learn how to seduce women and lose his
caustic and arrogant beyond measure, tackles the assignment.
Roger sneaks them in to one of Rogerís favorite hangouts
because Nickís underage, and Roger quickly tutors Nick on how to act
and speak when they meet a woman. Roger gets two gorgeous, but dubious, women, Andrea
(Elizabeth Berkley) and Sophie (Jennifer Beals), to sit with them for
what starts out as one drink. The
dialogue among the four of them rivals that in My Dinner with Andre.
Although it takes up a substantial part of the film, it never
sparkling, witty, and holds your interest.
women take to Nick as much as they are repulsed by Roger.
But Roger is nothing if not immune to rejection.
He doesnít so much ignore it, as he doesnít recognize it.
Women, to Roger, are there to be scored. One a night, says Roger.
expertly shows that Nick is the adult in this relationship and Roger
the adolescent, even though throughout the movie itís Roger giving
the advice and Nick receiving. This
anomaly is buttressed when Roger takes Nick to a party thrown by his
ex girl friend and boss, Joyce (Isabella Rossellini), who has dumped
him. Each has an
experience that spotlights his character.
Dodger, unfortunately, is marred by its filmmaking.
Shot almost entirely with hand held cameras by Joaquin Baca-Asay,
the lighting is minimal, at best.
The result is that watching this film is akin to watching
radio. Baca-Asay is from
NYUís Tisch School of the Arts (where he was Director Kiddís
classmate) and it appears that the artistic part went to his head.
The light is so low itís difficult to see the charactersí
faces. Maybe this is oh,
so avant-garde, but, for me, it made the film difficult to watch.
low light cinematography, Kiddís script is a joy.
Anyone whoís ever been in the singles bar scene recognizes
Roger instantly, and Scott translates him with unerring brilliance,
making him cloyingly hateful. Berkley, Beals, and Eisenberg complement Scott, interpreting
their characters with discernment. Their performances, along with the
hand-held camera technique, authoritatively capture the ambience of
the singles world.
you can stand the low light, this is a funny, enjoyable movie with a