Atlantic City

Rated R 105 minutes 2013

Louis Malle directed, but this beautifully filigreed, sensitive, and funny fable (1980) belongs to screenwriter John Guare. It continues the themes of Guare's stage plays (The House of Blue Leaves, the brilliant Bosoms and Neglect), examining problems of connection and protection, births and rebirths, beginnings and ends, and does so with some of the most elegant dialogue ever heard in an American film. Burt Lancaster is Lou, a retired gangster who lives near the Boardwalk and remembers better days; his lovers are Grace (Kate Reid), the widow of his old boss, and Sally (Susan Sarandon), a young woman who hopes her dealer's license will give her a new life. Malle's slow, deliberate direction tends to flatten out the script's emotional rhythms—he's stern and arty where a lighter sensibility might have been more appropriate—but the film is still a shimmering success. With Michel Piccoli and Hollis McLaren.

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