Two years ago ex-cop turned private detective Harry Ross (Paul Newman) was in Mexico helping out an old friend, movie star Jack Ames (Gene Hackman) and his wife Catherine (Susan Sarandon), also in the movie acting business. He had to track down their seventeen-year-old daughter Mel (Reese Witherspoon) who had taken flight to a resort there with her boyfriend Jeff (Liev Schreiber), and he succeeded - to a point. When escorting the girl from the premises she managed to get hold of his gun and shoot him...
Which if nothing else provided the rest of the story with a misapprehension in the other characters that Harry had his manhood shot off by the stray bullet, not true, but part of the curious mixture of tones here as while the film moved at a glacial pace, there would every so often be an example of nearer the knuckle material to remind us we were watching something for the grownups. Yet the fact that most of the characters were, shall we say, rather mature for a typical Hollywood movie that wasn't a comedy should have been a strong indication that this Twilight was designed for older audiences.
How unlike the other Twilight which arrived about ten years later and just about wiped all memory that there had been another film of that name off the cultural map. What to do when a film that was perfectly decent in its way was consigned to the dustbin of history after its title was lifted for a far greater financial success? That's the way cult movies are born, after all, but those examples would always be in the shadow of the later blockbusters, meaning whenever they arose in conversation you had to mention that big hit to distinguish it from its predecessor. That in spite of the star wattage of Twilight '98 far outshone that of the more recent one.
Yes, that cast was quite something, with Oscar winners and much respected thesps galore, which makes it all the more odd that this should be quite as low profile as it was; if anything, it was known as the film where Witherspoon appeared naked in the first five minutes, which for a certain section of the audience was a reason not to spend time with the rest of it. If you did stick with it, you would find a detective yarn much in the form of the classics of the genre, although where Newman even at his age was too young to have been around in the forties versions of such works, he had appeared in two Harper movies in the sixties and seventies, and some were happy to draw parallels.
As to the plot here, it was secondary to seeing the oldies shooting the breeze, but involved Jack telling Harry, who now lives on his property out of charity and/or guilt the Ames feel, to deliver an envelope stuffed with bills to a mysterious third party. This is the cue for murder, but fitting with the whole past not being done with you motif could be connected to the disappearance of Catherine's first husband who you begin to suspect had not committed suicide as the official version had it. The actual plotline being rather sluggish, the most pleasure you could get out of this should you be a movie buff would be seeing those great leading actors and character actors in exchanges with each other, illustrating the value of simply depicting conversations with humour and a tinge of sadness for what has been lost to the ages: the deceased, the opportunities, that sort of thing. If it was otherwise rather leaden, the cast made up for it. Music by Elmer Bernstein.