Roger Dodger

Rated 4.0

Manhattan womanizer Roger Swanson (an excellent Campbell Scott) dishes out venom and wallows in self-loathing like a veteran Neil LaBute protégé, as he applies his advertising copywriting strategies to the manipulation of women. (“You can’t sell a product unless you make them feel bad about themselves first.”) Words are both his stock in trade and shield against true intimacy, and he passes along the method of his madness to a visiting midwestern teen nephew (Jesse Eisenberg), who aches for his first seduction. You may see the writing on the wall from a distance, but Scott’s excellent performance sucks us deep into what Roger calls the “futility in relationships and pathetic heartbreaking predictability of it all,” as he sells psychological snake oil to himself and all within earshot. The movie also features Isabella Rossellini, Jennifer Beals and Showgirls’ much improved Elizabeth Berkley. Dylan Kidd has written and directed a first feature that feels like one of the year’s more truly independent-thinking as well as independently financed films.