No More Mr. Nice Guy

  • Review
By – February 14, 2012

Get out!” shouts the woman he lives with, and Britain’s Broad­cast­ing Crit­ic of the Year takes to the road for what he expects to be the great­est ride of his life. With no spe­cial pur­pose or des­ti­na­tion in mind, Frank Ritz finds him­self irre­sistibly drawn to revis­it­ing places he remem­bers fond­ly — and what he remem­bers is sex, lots of it, down to the last anatom­i­cal detail. Frank savors the mem­o­ry of his avid cou­plings and the women he enjoyed them with, their per­son­al and sex­u­al quirks as vivid to him now as they were decades before.

It would be easy to mis­take this jour­ney for a self-indul­gent rever­ie inter­rupt­ed by occa­sion­al trysts with pros­ti­tutes. More than an extend­ed escapade of lech­ery and libido, Frank’s wan­der­ings are also a kind of pilgrim’s progress. His encoun­ters with his past make his mis­takes all too pal­pa­ble, and he begins to see the good side in the demands of his rela­tion­ship. This cat­a­logue of con­cu­pis­cence turns out to be fun­da­men­tal­ly a moral fable about a vivid­ly imag­ined char­ac­ter who epit­o­mizes the testos­terone-dri­ven male of the species. Sea­soned with Howard Jacobson’s exu­ber­ant sense of humor and burst­ing with local col­or, it is deeply sym­pa­thet­ic to human frailty, fal­li­bil­i­ty, and the pos­si­bil­i­ty of forgiveness.

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