Star 80 ★★★½

The half-assed true crime talking head format drags down what is otherwise an effectively grimy exploitation flick about above-ground exploitation. Fosse ports over some of the hazy, sweaty vibe of All That Jazz to add a tacky layer of glam that won't wash off and makes the scenes with Paul all the more uncomfortable, a projection of his own glossy self-image. This is Eric Roberts' movie, though; he plays Snider as a man so anxious about being hated that he fails to see that he barely registers to anyone at all. At most, he is a momentary nuisance, a fast-talking moron who couldn't even run a game of three card monty, much less the kind of elaborate personality con he wants to put over to anyone he meets. We first see him working out and flexing, yet he's the sort of guy who only ever seems to look weaker the more he shows his muscles, his fidgety nervousness speaking to how afraid he is at all times of an actual confrontation.

Yet in his simpering, guilt-heavy relationship with Stratten, Snider's dangerous potential is evident at all times, a fragile masculinity in search of something weaker than itself as a receptacle for its self-loathing. Not one aspect of the performance has dated; if anything, it would probably be even more celebrated today. Roberts both epitomizes the lurid nature of the whole project and punches beyond it, tapping into an elemental depiction of toxicity that does not feel tethered to the true story of the film's subject.