The actor Patrick Wilson has a gift for delectably malign roles: He was a possessed parent in two installments of “Insidious,” an oily C.I.A. officer in “The A-Team” and, in his most disturbing portrait, an online predator in “Hard Candy.” In “Zipper,” Mora Stephens’s engrossing tale of a legal eagle’s sexual addiction, Mr. Wilson plays Sam Ellis, a straight-arrow prosecutor in South Carolina skilled at taking on errant politicians. Married to a smart, supportive ex-lawyer (a fine Lena Headey), with whom he has a son, Sam is egged on to seek elected office.

But he develops an Achilles heel: his libido, fired by salacious websites, an aggressively seductive intern (Dianna Agron) and a case witness (Elena Satine) who is an unapologetic escort-service employee. Soon he is caught in a spiral of $1,000-an-hour hotel trysts, with his marriage, bank account and career on the line. Mr. Wilson, as dexterous with righteous bravado as with calibrated self-disgust, ably captures Sam’s growing enslavement to his impulses. The script, by Ms. Stephens and Joel Viertel, though lurching at times into overstatement, is enhanced with worthy if fleeting performances from John Cho and Christopher McDonald as Sam’s colleagues. Ray Winstone, as a journalist, effectively melds sleaze and compassion.

In the third act, the film digs into wider implications, with Richard Dreyfuss in a delicious turn as a back-room political kingmaker. Eliot Spitzer, you are not forgotten. ANDY WEBSTER

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