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This one's "Out of Sight"

By Ray Pride

JUNE 29, 1998: 

Great pop filmmaking is possible in the studio system, on the evidence of the playful, tremendously adult, deliciously intricate "Out of Sight." Possible, that is, if you have an Elmore Leonard story adapted by Scott Frank, produced by Jersey Films and directed by the sure-footed Steven Soderbergh. While juggling Leonard's complex caper, Soderbergh manages to turn his first studio picture—and first outright comedy—into the Belgian chocolate of eye-candy: story and performance come first, but they're wrapped in an incredibly smart, elegant package. George Clooney charms, asked to act instead of displaying his choppers, as a convicted bank robber who gets tangled up with federal marshal Jennifer Lopez while escaping a Florida pen. His meet-brute with Lopez leads to an uncommonly charming romance, and her small, matter-of-fact smiles are incendiary. Elmore Leonard's one lucky writer—each of the last three adaptations of his work has been better than the last, and the twists and turns here are enacted with a rare bliss, far more entertainingly than "Jackie Brown" or the slick "Get Shorty." (Unlike Barry Sonnenfeld, the fretful Soderbergh sees the world instead of only the joke.) As one blissful example, watch the prolonged flirtation and foreplay that starts with Clooney as a "fantasy" reflection in a hotel bar against the snow-flocked neon of a Detroit night, a witty, sensual stretch of play shot with Soderbergh's customary restlessness and vigor. Or just enjoy the cast: Albert Brooks, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, Dennis Farina, Catherine Keener and a couple of cameos that might just make you grin from ear-to-ear if you're not expecting them. Panavision.

(Ray Pride)


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