02/24/1997 at 01:00 AM EST
Jack Nicholson, Steven Dorff, Judy Davis, Michael Caine, Jennifer Lopez
The main question in Blood & Wine, a dark domestic drama masquerading as a heist film, is just how low each character will go to get their paws on a stolen, million-dollar diamond necklace. Brutally low, it turns out. Watching them betray and turn on each other, all for the chance at a new life they think the fenced gems will offer, makes for an often funny but uneven, and sometimes violent, film. Blood & Wine, which reunites Nicholson with director Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces and The Postman Always Rings Twice) isn't a great movie, but it's trying hard.
The necklace is stolen originally by Nicholson, a wine merchant in Miami whose business and marriage are going down the tubes. His partner-in-crime is Caine, a seedy ex-con with a hacking cough. The other principal players are Nicholson's depressed wife (Davis), his alienated stepson (Dorff) and a sexy Cuban nanny (Lopez) with whom he is having an affair. Nicholson, Caine, Davis and Lopez come through with controlled, colorful performances, but a callow Dorff disappoints, failing to convey his character's deep hurt or cunning. And it sure doesn't help that he looks as if he used a lawn mower to cut his hair. (R)