Michael Douglas deserves serious award attention for his triumphant performance as the tormented Ben Kalmen, a fast-talking, moneymaking New York car dealer facing professional and personal disasters. His method of warding off aging, job scandal and a heart problem is to screw women, the younger the better. That includes Allyson (Imogen Poots), the college-age daughter of his mistress (Mary-Louise Parker). His own daughter (Jenna Fischer) has given up on him, as has his ex-wife, Nancy (Susan Sarandon). He fares better with student Daniel Cheston (Jesse Eisenberg), schooling him on the art of seduction until even the kid sees Ben's methods are outmoded. Yet when Ben hits bottom, working the counter at the diner of a friend (a terrific Danny DeVito), he can't quit lying to himself. The screenplay by Brian Koppelman, who co-directed with David Levien (Knockaround Guys), is a model of acid wit and elusive wisdom. The bumps in the narrative can be jarring, but Douglas never makes a false move, delivering a tour de force in human weakness.
From The Archives Issue 148: November 22, 1973