Everybody Wins
Debra Winger, Nick Nolte, Will Patton, Jack Warden
Screenplay by Arthur Miller
Directed by Karel Reisz
Film Trustees 1990
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2005
97 minutes

A good dose of willing suspension of disbelief is necessary to enjoy the crime thriller Everybody Wins. If, from the start, you can buy that supposedly sharp private eye Tom O’Toole doesn’t see right through the very heavy-handed manipulations of potential client  Oh, you are such a great, great, wonderful, intelligent, extraordinary man! Angela Crispini (Debra Winger) or the somewhat less subtle habit she has of changing the subject when he asks her a question, and so on, then you will be willing to buy the many other elements this movie written by Arthur Miller and Everybody Wins might work for you. If not, well, nobody wins.

There are so many elements tossed into this mystery movie that after a while you lose count. Everybody Wins includes drug runners, bikers, religious nuts, a cult around a Major who died during the Civil War, and the Debra Winger character who was sexually abused as a child, is a hooker, says she is the D.A.’s former mistress, is a few clowns short a circus, and has a few too many men on the ice personality wise. When O’Toole tells his sister (well, basically the viewer) that he’s going to drop the case but then doesn’t you know you are definitely lost.

The only really interesting thing about Everybody Wins is Nick Nolte. He is quite believable as a private eye trying to figure out this weird case he did not drop even if you never really buy his being manipulated so blatantly and never quite understand why he did not drop it in the first place. It s not like somebody threatened him to do so or else& (then you always understand why the P.I. stays on the case) and Angela Crispini can’t possibly be that good in the sack.

The screenplay may be by Arthur Miller based on his stage version but it is very hard to find any great writing in this ham-fisted, telegraphed, and basically implausible mystery. Seriously, Sesame Street is sometimes more subtle and it’s characters more believable than Everybody Wins.

Last but not least, if the ending to Everybody Wins does not make you scream you are probably the world’s most generous viewer.

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