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ROGER DODGER

SYNOPSIS:
Advertising copywriter Roger Swanson (Campbell Scott) is an arrogant New Yorker who believes he has mastered the art of picking up women. Dumped by his boss and lover Joyce (Isabella Rossellini), Roger is further annoyed when his 16 year-old nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) arrives unannounced and asks if Roger can impart his knowledge about women to him. Taking up the challenge, Roger shepherds Nick on a night out in the bars of Manhattan where the duo's first encounter is with Andrea (Elizabeth Berkley) and Sophie (Jennifer Beals). As the night progresses Roger's self-belief comes into question and the line between student and teacher become blurred. 


Review by Richard Kuipers:
You won't find Campbell Scott's name on the list of Oscar nominees but his performance here is worthy of it. From the opening scene in a bar where this ultra-cynical womaniser is laying down the law of the male-female jungle as he sees it, Scott is mesmerising. Sure, he's working with fantastic dialogue written by first-timer Dylan Kidd but listen to his timing and delivery and you'll know what I mean. Perhaps it's also the excitement of throwing off his nice-guy image and knowing he's responsible for this film being made that also inspired him. (Showing the kind of front Roger himself would approve of, Kidd approached Scott in a Greenwich Village cafe with his script. The actor liked it and became one of the executive producers). 

It's a considerable writing and acting feat to turn a sonofabitch like Roger into a character you actually care about as the drama progresses and it's pulled off here in style. This New York talkfest plays like a Whit Stillman film on steroids. All the cool, sophisticated, poisonous conversation and observation you could ever want is right here as Roger lets fly. From acid-tongued character evaluations of women he's met five seconds ago to the zealous instruction he gives Nick - 'use mirrors to catch a peek, use your peripheral vision. 

On a good day I can see backwards' - Roger is a sex-talk machine whose realisation that his batteries are running low gives the drama an unexpectedly touching destination. Scott isn't the whole show, either - there are splendid performances from Elizabeth Berkley (there is life after Showgirls) and Jennifer Beals as a duo of dames the boys meet at an appropriately jungle-themed bar. Isabella Rossellini is gorgeous and seductive as Scott's boss who dumps him with the words 'I do not wish to see you socially any longer'. Young Jesse Eisenberg is also a wonderfully innocent and curious foil for Scott. Roger Dodger is a juicy jaunt around modern-day sexual politics. It may not ultimately be all that profound and the hand-held camera is annoying, but for crisp, crackling dialogue and big sardonic smiles it's a winner.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

ROGER DODGER (M15+)
(US)

CAST: Campbell Scott, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabella Rossellini, Elizabeth Berkley, Jennifer Beals, Mina Badie

PRODUCER: Anne Chaisson, Dylan Kidd, George VanBuskirk

DIRECTOR: Dylan Kidd

SCRIPT: Dylan Kidd

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Joaquín Baca-Asay

EDITOR: Andy Keir

MUSIC: Craig Wedren

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephen Beatrice

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Arclight/Rialto

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane Perth: March 6, 2003; Adelaide March 13.







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