Stars: Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges and Sharon Stone

“Simpatico” is a noirish-styled suspense set in the world of thoroughbred racing and based on a Sam Shepard play. It is filled with complex characterizations and an even more complex story line involving a horse scam, blackmail and betrayal.

The bummer is, it’s largely placed in dingy locales rather than the fresh open spaces of horses and race tracks. It’s downright claustrophobic at times.

It stars Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges and Sharon Stone. But we really don’t see too much of them because the story constantly flashbacks to 20 years ago and we’re usually just looking at younger versions of them. Albert Finney (almost unrecognizable) plays Simms, a compromised former California Racing Commissioner.

Jeff Bridges plays wealthy Lyle Carter, who with his wife Rosie (Stone – who appears only very late in the picture), we come to find, made their fortune in a horse switch years ago. They’re now on the verge of selling their Triple Crown winner stallion Simpatico in a very lucrative deal at the same time blackmail from old friend Vinnie Webb (Nolte) rears its ugly head. He was in on the scam back then too. Simpatico is, in fact, also a small portion of this film.

The characters are very well developed, but somehow the whole story leaves you cold. They are all morally inept people. Vinnie is a down-and-out sort living like a pig in California, all the while clutching his blackmail evidence in a shoe box. Fancy Lyle has been camped out all these years on a ritzy Kentucky horse farm with Rosie. When Lyle gets a strange call from Vinnie one day, he sets out to California and soon becomes enmeshed in Vinnie’s double-cross. It’s from there that the character of Lyle begins his downward slide. He’s looking more like Vinnie everyday. And the confused tale of who did what to whom unravels very slowly indeed. You’re interested, but not it’s not a nail biter by any means.

Lotta says
it’s worth a look when it comes to video but don’t seek it out in the theaters.