Roger Dodger

Downbeat, Neil Labute-esque tale of male inadequacy

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A Terrific study of masculinity under fire, this is an impressive calling card for debuting writer/director Dylan Kidd. Thirty something copywriter Roger (Campbell Scott) reckons he’s irresistible to women, but he seems to be losing the knack. We meet him as his sexual relationship with his boss (Isabella Rossellini) hits the skids. This is the moment his nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) chooses to turn up at his office unannounced, requesting help in the business of losing his virginity.

Roger’s idea of charm school is to list the ways of looking at girls’ breasts without them noticing, and a field test in a bar involves chatting up two girls (Elizabeth Berkley and Jennifer Beals) and immediately prying into their sex lives. Strangely, this works for the nephew, who gets his first snog, but Roger isn’t satisfied and drags the boy first to a works party and then to a brothel, with mixed results. Initially Roger comes across as arrogant and obnoxious, but by the end you realise he’s tired, hitting the end of his bachelor years just as the nephew hits the beginning.

Scott?who’s skirted the fringes of stardom since Singles and Mrs Parker And The Vicious Circle?gives an electric performance as the verbose, ageing Lothario. Kidd, meanwhile, has written a script that’s both achingly funny and deeply touching. Definitely a name to watch.


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