|WRESTLING ERNEST HEMINGWAY (director: Randa Haines; screenwriter: Steve Conrad; cinematographer: Lajos Koltai; editor: Paul Hirsch; music: Michael Convertino ; cast: Robert Duvall (Walt), Richard Harris (Frank), Shirley MacLaine (Helen), Sandra Bullock (Elaine), Piper Laurie (Georgia); Runtime: 123; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Todd Black/Joe Wizan; Warner Home Video; 1993)|
|"Mostly dull but likable senior
by Dennis Schwartz
Haines ("Children of a Lesser God"/"Dance With
Me"/"The Doctor") helms this mostly dull but likable
senior citizen melodrama. It's poignantly but not
wisely written by the inexperienced with aging
problems 23-year-old Steve Conrad. The pic tells about
the intimate friendship between two old and eccentric
men, who in the end become better people because of
their ticklish needy relationship.
Sweetwater, a dumpy Florida resort town, reside the
re-located Chicago retired resident Walt (Robert
Duvall) and newcomer sea dog Frank (Richard Harris).
They are two lonely elderly men, in an Odd Couple
scenario. Walt is the Felix, who is a repressed
bachelor, a Cuban barber and a fussy type; while Frank
is the Oscar, who is an outgoing alcoholic retired sea
captain. The four-times divorced Frank is now living
alone in a bleak apartment building, and the recently
grounded Frank is estranged from his son and having
difficulty adjusting to his new uptight situation.
Frank's good time memories of his wild past are no
comfort now. The characters though vastly different,
having little in common, will predictably bond by the
third act, after intruding on one another through the
The slim tale is an actor's film, as both men wonderfully play off each other and allow the film to become semi-profound and tolerable. The supporting cast is fine, with only Shirley MacLaine's shrill performance as Frank's romantic interest landlady. Sandra Bullock is fine as the friendly waitress Frank flirts with. Piper Laurie is also fine as Frank's prim lady friend.
The title is derived from Frank reading
Hemingway in the local bookstore and the dubious
claim he wrestled the author in the Caribbean
REVIEWED ON 12/25/2015 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ