THE DYING GAUL

Writer-director Craig Lucas's Hollywood satire is about struggling screenwriter Robert (Peter Sarsgaard), who discovers that a film executive and his wife want to buy his autobiographical script -- which focuses on Robert's lover dying of AIDS -- for a million dollars. The catch: They want to change the script so that it's about a heterosexual couple. As if that weren't enough moral quicksand, Robert starts an affair with the married producer (Campbell Scott), even though he is fond of the man's wife (Patricia Clarkson). Secretly, however, the wife is in contact with Robert, talking to him online in an all-male chat room. Treachery, disaster and revenge loom. Although Sarsgaard's gay affectations seem unnecessary, the cast is so great, this film is difficult to resist. But the finale is so nasty and mean, it left a sour taste in my mouth.

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