Bob Rafelson’s BLOOD & WINE operates as the capstone at the end of a neo-noir resurgence in the 90s. Cut from the same whiskey and blood soaked cloth as James Foley’s AFTER DARK, MY SWEET and CITY OF INDUSTRY the hard lined revenge vehicle for Harvey Keitel; BLOOD & WINE is about lust, greed, and revenge set in the smokey backrooms and emptiness of decaying wealth.
Rafelson assembles a marvelous cast that is able to navigate in and out of the faux royalty and seedy underbelly of Miami. Jack Nicholson, in his fifth and more than likely final collaboration with Rafelson, plays Alex who is a high end wine salesman with maxed out credit cards and a marriage that is imploding. Nicholson brings gravitas and menace and he transitions it in a very low key way, he’s a stalled out businessman and worn out salesman who is looking for a way out.
Stephen Dorff and Judy Davis are his packaged deal, makeshift family. Dorff as his stepson, and Davis his codeine induced wife who is self medicating her way through the last rung of their marriage. Jennifer Lopez, in one of her earliest performance, plays the love interest to both Nicholson and Dorff, which creates a rather rich and perverse subplot.
- BLOOD & WINE
- dir. Bob Rafelson
- feat. Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, Judy Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Mike Starr, and Stephen Dorff
- ed. Digital Release
Michael Caine gives one of his most underappreciated performances as Victor, a tuberculosis ridden master thief who pairs with Nicholson to rob his most affluent wine client. Caine is remarkable in this picture, playing a man with little left to lose, who springs to life with terrifying intermittent bursts of rage who refuses to die without pulling others down to Hell with him.
Rafelson, whose career never quite rebounded from his landmark 70s pictures, constructs a very moody and treacherous film that lives in a world of double and triple crossing, a film plentiful of smoke absorbed pastels and cut throat men navigating a world that has left them behind. The film can be frustrating for some, because the axe never falls from the shadow, it stays in its place the entire film, even through the final frame. Which is the trick of the film, the axe doesn’t fall, it stays tightly in its place, and allows the story to continue even after it is over.