Susan Granger’s review of “Zipper” (Alchemy)
Sex scandals have felled many politicians and Sam Elllis (Patrick Wilson) is no exception. He’s an ambitious South Carolina federal prosecutor who has established his reputation as a fiery moral crusader.
“Your mythology is your best asset,” a supporter tells him.
Problem is: what was meant to be a one-time experience with a high-end escort service called Executive Privilege becomes into a growing addiction, jeopardizing Sam’s marriage, his family and his career.
It begins with perusing Internet porn, a tempting kiss with an aggressively seductive law school intern (Dianna Agron) and an encounter with a former hooker (Elena Satine), but soon he’s caught in a $1,000-an-hour obsession, arguing with American Express not to cut off his credit.
As this unfolds, it’s hard not to recall the extramarital travails of similarly disgraced politicos, like John Edwards, Mark Sanford, Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner – along with subplots propelling TV’s far-better “The Good Wife” and “House of Cards.”
Filmmaker Mora Stephens (“Conventioneers”), who wrote the script with husband/editor Joel Viertel, is so anxious to get to the salacious scenes that she doesn’t bother to build crucial character arcs, particularly for Patrick Wilson, who needs to establish audience empathy before his philandering starts.
Which shouldn’t be hard, because seemingly wholesome-looking Wilson began his career in Broadway musicals like “Oklahoma!” and “The Full Monty,” before films like “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Little Children” and “Watchmen.” Wilson also starred in the CBS-TV series “A Gifted Man” and is in the second season of FX’s “Fargo.”
But Wilson’s not the only one whose talent is wasted. So is Lena Headley as Wilson’s bitter, lawyer-turned-stay-at-home wife; Richard Dreyfuss, as Sam’s cynical political strategist; and Ray Winstone as an investigative journalist.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Zipper” is a flaccid 4, another cautionary tale that hits a snag.