Nadine is an innocuous souffle from writer-director Robert Benton so lightweight that in the end one can’t help wondering where the film is. Set in Austin in 1954, Benton tries to get by on Texas charm but the recipe of screwball comedy and small-town thriller fails to jell.
Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger are husband and wife on the verge of divorce drawn together again by a suspicious killing. As Vernon Hightower, proprietor of the unsuccessful Bluebonnet saloon, Bridges has a smile and an excuse for every mishandled situation. As Nadine, Basinger is a kvetch with a twang, who gives manicures in the local beauty parlor.
Things get going when Basinger witnesses the murder of two-bit photographer Raymond Escobar (Jerry Stiller) who happens to have in his possession some ‘art’ shots of Nadine, thereby giving her a motive for the killing. The real meat of the matter are some photos for a proposed highway that Escobar has gotten his hands on and local mobster Buford Pope (Rip Torn) wants back at any cost.
Pope is the only truly interesting character here and the film comes alive when he’s on the screen.