If it hadn't been released in 1998 with a veteran cast of Hollywood's finest, you could swear that Twilight was a movie from the 1940s--the kind of intelligent mystery that would've made Humphrey Bogart feel right at home. To be sure, that was exactly the intention of director and co-writer Robert Benton (in collaboration with Nobody's Fool writer Richard Russo), but the film's blessing is also its curse. Benton and Russo are so enamored of vintage mystery plots and characters that their movie nearly succumbs to the burden of old-fashioned familiarity. As the title suggests, the movie's aging characters, led by Newman as a private eye who's almost literally on his last legs, are all on the downhill of life, their Hollywood glory days behind them. Newman's character lives in the luxury home of two fading stars (Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon) who may or may not be connected to a murder plot that also involves one of Newman's old colleagues (James Garner). Whether they're literally in their final days (as in the case of Hackman's character) or just grasping for some comfort in their twilight years, these characters interact with the kind of worldly, intelligent dialogue that was common in the better movies of Hollywood's past. But while Twilight gives Newman yet another role to fit into like a favored old suit, the movie's so low-key that some viewers may find it hard to sit through. That's a shame, because the bombastic, frenetically paced films that dominated the 1990s may have diminished our collective capacity to appreciate the solid, character-driven movie tradition that Twilight attempts to revive. --Jeff Shannon
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