The Cooler


Top 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2003 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Dramatic Competition


William H. Macy, Maria Bello, Alec Baldwin, Ron Livingston, Joey Fatone, Paul Sorvino

Non-Cast Credits

Wayne Kramer, Edward R. Pressman, John Schmidt, Alessandro Camon, Brett Morrison, Robert Gryphon, Joe Madden, Sean Furst, Michael Pierce, James Whitaker, Wayne Kramer, Frank Hannah, Arthur Coburn


There is a classicism in wayne Kramer's The cooler, a film that combines sensational performance and some modernist contractions with a storytelling style reminiscent of Hollywood in the 1930s, that make it out of the best love stories in years. Teetering between genre and realism, Kramer draws a picture of a place that deserves to be called the orignal sin city, home of the aging Shangri-La casino, living in the shadow of the new strip and its theme parks. It's a place where losers and winners play the hands that life has dealt them, fairly or not.

William H Macy gives on of the standout performances of his career as Bernie Lootz, a guy whose luck is so bad that the casino calls him to rub up against hot players and cool them off, a task he's been performing for years to pay off a debt. Finally on the verge of getting out, he meets Natalie, an older but still attractive cocktail waitress (Maria Bello), and amazingly, they fall hard for each other. Suddenly, Bernie's luck changes, and his cooling talent stops working. But trouble is around the corner, and his odd school boss, Shelly, superbly depicted by Alec Baldwin, is committed to keeping him around.

Sexy and rawly beautiful with wonderfully flawed characters and a transcendent devolvement, The Cooler is an outstanding accomplishment that reminds us why we love film.


Geoffrey Gilmore (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.