There's some really fine acting in Simpatico, which is adapted from a 1994 play by that ol' lonesome cowboy Sam Shepard. Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges, Sharon Stone and Albert Finney star in this frisky drama about love, money, betrayal, corruption and a Triple Crown-winning racehorse that was acquired through ill-gotten gains. Director Matthew Warchus, who comes to us from British theater, can't quite shake the staginess out of Shepard's conception--there are lines like "Loss can be a powerful elixir"--but he's had the good sense to let his thoroughbred cast find its own way to the finish line. And he's captured it all with some surprisingly deft filmmaking, thanks in part to cinematographer John Toll and editor Pasquale Buba. Back in the '70s, Bridges' Carter and Nolte's Vinnie were a couple of racing fans on the make. Together with Stone's Rosie, they managed to pull a switcheroo before a race, substituting a fast horse for a slow horse with 50-to-1 odds. Then, when Finney's racing commissioner caught on to them, they entrapped him in a blackmail scheme. The movie opens 20 years later. Carter and Rosie live in regal splendor not far from Churchill Downs, but Vinnie's still back in California, drunk and remorseful, perhaps even a little vengeful. Simpatico flirts with film noir but never quite seals the deal, preferring to explore the tangled emotions of these not-quite-poker-faced horse traders, who can't remember which they were first, friends or thieves. Rather heavily plotted for a Shepard play, Simpatico pulls its own switcheroo when Vinnie coaxes Carter out to California, steals his car and heads back to Kentucky to stake a claim on Rosie. As in Shepard's True West, the two characters gradually assume each other's identity, which makes for an interesting acting exercise, to say the least. Still, it's Stone's unbridled performance as Rosie that winds up in the winner's circle--a shocking display of glamorous self-loathing. Less a love story than a ghost story, Simpatico is about burying people who've been dead for years.