This film is one of the oldest films in the pile of shame, whilst it was made only 9 years ago it has been sitting in the pile of shame for 7 of those. American character actor William H Macy is an unsung hero of cinema, forever cast in the supporting role. Romantic drama The Cooler sets about righting this wrong and he’s front and centre at last.
Macy plays Bernie Lootz, he lives a dreary life living in a small apartment in a flea bag motel on the Las Vegas Strip. Bernie’s bad luck had gotten him into trouble with Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin) and Bernie is now working off a debt at his Casino The Shangri-La. He is what’s called in gambling a “cooler”, his bad luck cools down high rollers and anybody experiencing a winning streak.
This has made him the best cooler in town but that streak is about to come to an end. Bernie meets the hard-bitten Natalie (Maria Bello) and all of a sudden, his life takes a turn for the better but his cooling skills take a turn for the worse.
Macy might be an unusual choice for a romantic leading role, his everyman quiet charm is perfect for Bernie. Maria Bello has put in many a great supporting role, her only real lapse in judgment has been The Mummy 3 but you can hardly blame her for wanting a taste of the blockbuster.
After all, Macy himself gave it a go in the third Jurassic Park film, and Baldwin has Pearl Harbor and a cameo in Pluto Nash on his resume. However, here Baldwin gets a chance to shine as Shelly and it ranks as one of his best performances to date.
I’m sad it has taken me so long to finally get round to watching this movie, but in many ways I’m glad I waited so long as it’s never too late to discover a hidden gem.
The Cooler is a well made indie flick that has real heart. A winning performance from Macy, and a career best from the still underrated Maria Bello. All these things have made this movie the best I’ve seen from the pile so far.
Although the cameo from former N-Sync singer Joey Fatone is still an utter mystery.
“You look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, then look in my eyes I’m the only mirror you’re ever going to need”. Bernie to Natalie