Trixie (2000) (R) No Rating

Review Date: June 28th, 2000

All the clues point to Emily Watson as the most lovable female sleuth

since Frances McDormand in "Fargo."


Security guard Trixie Zurbo (Watson), an unsophisticated working stiff

who never met a metaphor she couldn’t mix or a bit of English syntax she

couldn’t massacre, gets her first shot at real detective work when

assigned to go undercover at a casino. On the lookout for pickpockets,

she stumbles into a romance with a smooth heartbreaker (Dermot Mulroney)

and a potentially fatal sex scandal involving a sleazy local politician

(Nick Nolte).


Fearless British thespian Watson ("Hilary and Jackie") pours it on thick

as the slow-witted but heroically persistent protagonist, and the

results can be tears-in-your-eyes funny. Squinting as she tries to wrap

her mind around complex concepts, tossing out a steady stream of

malaprops ("I’m gonna get ’em by hook or by ladder"), she finds a way to

score with virtually every moment onscreen. A 10-minute dialogue scene

in which she confronts Nolte’s anecdote-spouting state senator, neither

having the slightest idea what the other is saying, is pure gold. The

star also gets able support from low-key charmer Mulroney ("My Best

Friend’s Wedding") and Nathan Lane, perfectly cast as a mentoring lounge



The constraints of the detective genre rein in the usual artsy

self-indulgences of writer director Alan Rudolph ("Afterglow"), and as a

result "Trixie" might be his most accessible film to date. Rudolph shows

little interest in the standard mystery plot, a collection of

unsurprising twists providing the flimsiest of excuses to explore his

sharply defined characters. The narrative loses steam when he’s forced

to deal with wrapping things up in the last section, but by then it’s

too late for the audience to back out -- Trixie has stolen our hearts.

Bottom Line

As Trixie might say: If the shoe fits, go see it.