A downer. Lost is the original author James M. Cain’s voice and wit. He had a tough but light touch. The Bob Rafelson adaptation is plumb grim. It Mamet-izes the bare-faced pulp, but there’s no charge, no excitement. Shorn of the book’s irony (a wry gallows humor), the movie feels overcooked. It’s true: all hands on deck do superb work. Playing a drifter (Jack Nicholson) and a waitress (Jessica Lange) who scheme to kill her husband, the leads are cast well. Other elements — a moody Santa Barbara, a drab slab of Depression-era detail — are rendered with fondness and skill. But no matter how faithful the film might be to the way the book plays in the reader’s mind (after the reader reads it), the film is but an excuse to see the actors pretend to f*ck. Like animals.