Roger Swanson (Campbell Scott) is a self-styled ladies man. His job in advertising is, as he describes it, sitting and thinking of ways to make people feel bad so he can sell them something to make them feel better. He's having a secret affair with the agency boss Joyce (Isabella Rossellini), who calls off the relationship when Roger assumes too much. When Roger's sixteen year old nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) turns up at his office during a trip to New York, he wants Roger to show him the ways of the world with women. So during one night Roger takes Nick on a touring seminar on how to read women and their bodies. At a bar they run into Andrea (Elizabeth Berkley) and Sophie (Jennifer Beals), who seem to have more time for the nephew than they do for the uncle.
This very impressive debut from Dylan Kidd who'd made industrial films and videos before this with his collaborator, cinematographer Joaquin Baca-Asay is a meditation on predatory male sexuality. Interestingly, while Roger ought to be totally repulsive, Campbell Scott's nuanced performance makes you feel the pain behind Roger's cynical cruel mask. Balancing this film excellently is Jesse Eisenberg's creation of the naive, gawky but intelligent teenager. The handheld cinematography, which almost seems to be tailing these two as they trawl the city is very effective.
Comments by David Stratton: A witty script and a couple of fine performances are somewhat undone by unusually poor photography – the usual hand-held stuff, but also terribly dark lighting. Despite the cameraman's deficiencies, the film, made on a modest budget, successfully creates a couple of well-defined characters – Campbell Scott's odious Roger and Jesse Eisenberg's naive but good-hearted Nick.