Picks and Pans Review: Heartbreakers

updated 04/08/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/08/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

Directed and written by little-known Bobby Roth and acted by a cast devoid of big names, this film could easily slip by unnoticed. Don't let it. Few movies have done such an honest, unapologetic job of exploring the frustrations of middle-aged Americans. Peter (Cross Creek) Coyote plays a painter who has a lot of integrity but no money. His best friend, Nick (Ticket to Heaven) Mancuso, is a businessman with a lot of money and little peace of mind. Coyote lived, unhappily, with Kathryn (Yes, Giorgio) Harrold. Both he and Mancuso also end up lusting after Carole (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs) Laure and the late Carol Wayne, the Tonight Show's crazy-as-a-fox bimbo who died in January in a drowning accident. Coyote and Mancuso adroitly underplay the pulsing mix of affection and envy between them; each shows a lot more ability to deal with his friend's failures than with his successes. Laure is icily detached, and Harrold is tired of struggling. Wayne is altogether charming as a model who, in seducing the two men at the same time, does a striptease that is at once innocently clumsy and feverishly sexy. Roth seems to be in something of a rush to wrap up the loose ends at the finish, swirling through a series of plot resolutions that makes the film tidier than it needed to be. But he doesn't fall into the trap of overplaying his story or resorting to clich├ęs. He seems satisfied to create recognizable characters whose lives are involving. (R)

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