The Cooler Review

For those few that have read this blog before, you know that I love movies, and compare elements found within them to my own world. This past week I’ve gone through some incredible moments, and phases. I have been hit hard with a punch to the face, a broken car, and finding out who my true friends are. Amidst the turmoil, amidst all of the elements that I can truly move forward with, I’m reminded of a movie and story that resonates with me, depression, and so much more.

The Cooler came out in 2003, and immediately watching it, I knew that I would resonate with the characters, because the story kept unfolding to showcase what I was feeling. The movie is fascinating, it is a picture of Vegas, it is a picture of depression, happiness, and the pursuit of something that is real, and something that one can feel. In the end, we all need something that we can feel, to break up the boredom that we have been sold.

Depression takes many forms. You may have tasted it in the past, and I know I have tasted it today in many ways. Bernie Lootz is a loser. Well, he wasn’t always a loser, but because he owes the casino mob boss in the movie a large debt, and got his kneecaps broken for it, life has not been good. Lootz lives in a crappy apartment, and he has found success in alleviating the debt by being a cooler. He is so unlucky, he is so depressed, that anyone he comes near starts to lose. Lootz is tired, he is the picture of depression, and William H. Macy performs the depression routine in a way that I know all to well. His facial expressions, the way he walks, the way he talks, the reality of his acceptance that he is not worth anything, all plays a role in isolating the movies central themes.

Lootz is us. He is the depressed, he is the anxious, he is the acceptable model of who we are amidst the sadness that we feel. There isn’t a reason, we just grow weary. For all intents and purposes, Lootz should be happy. He has an apartment, he has a job, he has a purpose, even if it is to befall the winning streak of others. A life with no purpose sucks, but a life with purpose? Well, as I stated in another post, the only gaurantee in life is a life worth fighting for, right?

By the time someone wants out of their misery, something comes through to change things up. The catalyst of change in The Cooler is found with a trick. Knowing that Lootz wants to leave, knowing he is depressed, the boss convinces a girl to distract him, and Natalie Bellsario shows interst, although only for the money, things start to become something of an interesting moment for love.

Lootz and Bellsario’s relationship is interesting. Maria Bello does an incredible job delivering the pathos needed to welcome you into the story. I fell for the idea. What if someone got to know me, depressed me, anxious me, and still wanted to be with me? That is the ultimate, and that is something that I look at when trying to date, even if the most recent attempt left a new cavity in me.

Then love sets in. Remember, life is not a movie, but even though I love the idea of the movielife, I have to admit, this is one of my favorite elements of drama. Lootz and Belisario fall in love, and the cooler is no longer bad luck. He still tries, but he is mising something, because he is in love. That’s what love does in the real world, it makes us winners, it makes us somebody. Reeve Oliver noted that “you’re a nobody until somebody loves you”, and of course the old time Vegas crooners would agree with that notion as well. Either way, there’s a greatness that is found within the power of love, right?

I feel unlucky. I was having a conversation with someone today, and it was going to end. You see, I had found Moby Dick. I was either Ishmael or Ahab, and I was chasing her. She was everything I could want, and she kept moving, she kept running, but I stayed for a while, and then it was time to confront the truth. Yes or no. Do you want to continue? Yes or no. It’s that simple. Do you want to keep talking, do you want to hang out? Do you want to be friends? These questions were too hard for her, so she didn’t give me a direct answer. That’s when I knew, I wasn’t Ishmael, I was Ahab. I told her such. She never read the book.

I’m back to being the Cooler. William H. Macy and Maria Bello’s performance in this movie magnifies what it is like to feel down, find love, and the power that comes with changing a bit. I know it. I’m waiting on it, and I had to learn the hard way. The Cooler is available on dvd, and streaming, and it very well may have layers to your life, like it did for me today.

For those keeping count, “Swing Set Girl”, isn’t even my friend anymore.


“One Armed Man (Play On)” by Project 86

“Teenager” by Deftones

“Swing Set Girl” by Mxpx

“Moby Dick” by Herman Mellville

“The Cooler” (2003) Movie

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