The Man from Elysian Fields

Rated 3.0 A failed writer (Andy Garcia) takes a last-ditch job with an escort service and becomes involved with the wife (Olivia Williams) of a renowned but dying novelist (James Coburn, poignant in one of his last roles). Philip Jayson Lasker’s script is an oddball ramble about pride and betrayal. It’s intriguing but only half-formed. (As Garcia’s character says about the old writer’s latest manuscript, “It’s wonderful—for a first draft.”) George Hickenlooper’s slack direction doesn’t help. He trudges through the story without shaping it and lets his actors flail at awkward moments. Yet the film is hard to dismiss. It’s moody and thoughtful and lit by flashes of mordant humor. The cast is strong, and there are many surprises; chief among them is Mick Jagger’s sly, subtle turn as Garcia’s Mephistophelian pimp.