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USA 2006
Directed by
Stuart Gordon
79 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


Writer David Mamet’s distinctive manner is immediately obvious in this adaptation of his own 1982 stage play about a company man’s descent into one helluva mid-life crisis.  In one night, ordinary schlub, Edmond (William H. Macy) leaves his wife (Rebecca Pidgeon, Mamet’s real life wife), and drab existence behind in search of fulfilment. Through some ham-fisted attempts at debauchery that eventually lead to a heat-of-the-moment murder he effectively finds what he is looking for (a sense of meaning) in the arms of a black male lover in prison.

With director Stuart Gordon, who directed the original stage production of Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago and Mamet alumni, Macy, Pidgeon, Julia Stiles and, briefly, Joe Mantegna, the text presumably stays close to the author's intention. However what might have worked on stage is, as is often the case, less convincing in the naturalistic environment of film which demands a behavioural logic that the stage does not. Those familiar with Mamet’s work, with its deliberately abstracted exploration of ideas, might find this film engaging in parts but more as an exercise in philosophy than as a drama.

Much of this is down to the casting of Macy in the lead. The actor's equally distinctive style is best fitted to comedies such as Fargo (1996) and Stealing Sinatra (2000) where his chronic loser persona is an element in a larger pattern of events.  Had Mantegna been cast in the role for instance we might have felt some empathy for Edmond's fall but with Macy in the part the character is such a little cockroach that we feel scorn more than anything else for him. Of course this might have been Mamet's intention but if so it seems a rather pointless one.

DVD Extras: Making-of featurette; Deleted Scenes; Interview with Gordon by David Stratton; 2 separate commentaries, one by Gordon and two of the film's producers, one by Mamet who confines himself to largely anecdotal observations.

Available from: Madman




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