Movies: As Good As He Gets

As a man from the heartland, Jack Nicholson gives a heartbreaking performance in About Schmidt

Warren Schmidt moves ponderously. This is not because Jack Nicholson, who plays him to perfection, is particularly weighty or out of shape for a 66-year-old man. What slows him is the rhythms of his region and his culture; he is a Midwesterner of the Wasp persuasion, which means he is solid, stolid and silent, except when exchanging arm's-length pleasantries with his friends. Like so many men of his class and place, he has bent himself to a job (as an insurance company actuary) that is at once dull and intricate and to a city (Omaha, Neb.) where the agreed-upon illusion is...

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