A deep secret lies at the heart of Simpatico, the movie based on Sam Shepard. It is a secret that stretches across the years, and still has a strong hold on Lyle Carter (Jeff Bridges, The Muse, Arlington Road). Vinnie Webb (an especially haggard looking Nick Nolte, Affliction, Breakfast of Champions) also knows the secret, and he is blackmailing Carter. Carter and Webb exist in an uneasy relationship. The two were once good friends, but now Carter, a wealthy man, lives in Kentucky and is involved in horse racing, while Webb lives in a run down house in Southern California.

Simpatico is the name of Carter's horse, which is up for sale after a long career of racing wins. When the sale nears completion, Carter receives a frantic call from Webb, who is willing to turn over all evidence of the past transgression if Carter will come to California to help him. Carter complies, and Webb tells him a woman (Catherine Keener, Being John Malkovich, Your Friends and Neighbors) is suing him for sexual harassment. Carter agrees to speak with her and to try to talk her out of her lawsuit, which sets in motion events that will reveal what was buried long ago. Interspersed between present day events are scenes Webb and Carter when they were teens (played respectively by Shawn Hatosy, Down To You, Anywhere But Here, and Liam Waite). Together with Vinnie's girlfriend (Kimberly Williams, NBC's The 10th Kingdom, Just a Little Harmless Sex), the scenes eventually reveal what happened in the past that has Carter so scared.

The first portion of the movie is interesting, but after a while, things drag on for so long that it does not really matter what happened in the past. No one really cares anymore. Carter's actions and responses are so strange and counterintuitive that the movie nears bordering on the ridiculous. Bridges' character undergoes a transformation that mirrors that of his performance in Arlington Road; in both cases puzzling. Sharon Stone (Gloria, The Muse) is prominent in much of the advertising, but does not even appear until the story begins to draw to its conclusion. After 20 minutes, it is obvious whom she is, but not why she remains important to the story. Once everything wraps up, there is no real feeling of satisfaction, just boredom.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 29 minutes, Rated R for some strong sexuality and language.

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