Directed by Dylan Kidd, starring Campbell Scott, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabella Rossellini, Jennifer Beals and Elizabeth Berkley.
New York advertising copywriter Roger Swanson (Scott) is, in his own eyes, the quintessential playboy. Cynical, ruthless and utterly devoid of political correctness – or indeed any degree of subtlety – Swanson approaches work, women and life in general with a startling degree of disregard.
But for all his slick talking and casual sex, nobody actually seems to like the eponymous dodger. From an early scene with colleagues – in which he eloquently describes the imminent redundancy of man's role in the act of procreation – we see a figure who is viewed more as an entertaining distraction than a valued peer. This becomes even more apparent when Roger is suddenly jilted by his hitherto sex playmate Joyce (Rossellini in femme fatale mode), a sophisticated older woman who is also Roger's boss.
Ego-bruised and sex-starved, Roger is further inconvenienced by the arrival of his nephew, 16-year-old Nick (solid newcomer Eisenberg). Ostensibly in town to view a prospective college, Nick has education of another type on his mind – he wants to lose his virginity. Here, the film enters its most, eh, fertile patch – with uncle introducing nephew to a crash course in the art of seduction.
Yet for all his macho machinations, Roger is a sheep in wolf's clothing. And as the narrative progresses into murkier territory, his stoical mask slips to reveal deep insecurity and creeping loneliness. But thankfully we can only guess at this, as the script keeps a tight rein on Oprah-style disclosures. Director/writer Dylan Kidd credits his audience with the intelligence to realise that Roger is far from completed by his lifestyle, and hence never has to resort to sledgehammer tactics.
The triumph of 'Roger Dodger' is carried entirely in its undertow, always bubbling below the surface of what we see and hear. This is all down to Campbell Scott, who is simply riveting in the title role. Smooth-talking, charming, cold and sleazy – sometimes all at the same time – Scott completely owns the film, and leaves you wondering why on earth we don't see an awful lot more of him.
'Roger Dodger' is no mind blower. There is little action, lots of talking, and its small cast means character variety is just not on offer. But long after the spectre of the film itself begins to fade, the memory of Scott's performance will continue to shine brightly.