Everybody Wins (1990)
A dramatic mystery starring Nick Nolte and Debra Winger adapted by the legendary Arthur Miller from one his own plays? How could it not be good? Words can barely convey how shockingly awful Everybody Wins truly is.
The plot is an incomprehensible mess of characters without motivation, clues that aren't clues and yawning gaps of logic and story that makes you wonder if essential scenes were never even written or filmed. Nolte, sporting one of filmdom's most tragic haircuts, is a hot-shot P.I. who is hired by batsh*t crazy hooker Debra Winger to help spring an innocent man from prison who's been jailed for murder. She has all of the key information that would prove the guy's innocence, yet for three-quarters of the film's running time she won't cough it up. Apparently she suffers from bi-polar or multiple personality disorder and swings from persona to persona, dropping little crumbs of hints to Nolte that serve only to stretch the plot beyond what's necessary.
This sounds more interesting and lucid than it really is. The murder in question was that of a local doctor and one of the key suspects is a strange, brain-damaged, wannabe religious leader played by Will Patton. It's pretty clear midway through that the mystery plot is altogether irrelevant since there are no clues to find, nobody to care about and nothing on the screen except scene after scene of characters standing around and talking in circles. Scenes seem to begin and end at random and without payoff. Just when it appears that a scene is beginning to build to something, director Karel Reisz just cuts away and goes on to something else. Most annoyingly of all is the ending which also seems to finally amount to something until it just kinda stops. Who did what to who and why? No idea. To put it simply, Everybody Wins is impossible to follow...or maybe there is nothing to follow?
As good as actors Nolte and Winger are, they are completely at sea. They both wrestle with their illogical and underwritten characters and are totally defeated. Winger has never been worse on screen than the histrionics on display here, and Nolte is no better with a performance that is only slightly better than the one he gives in Breakfast of Champions as a transvestite car salesman.
Everybody Wins is so amazingly inept and lousy it almost has to be seen to be believed. It may be unclear as to who really does win onscreen, but the viewer is most definitely the loser.