Saturday, June 9, 2007

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Directed by James Foley. Starring Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin and Kevin Spacey.

Many filmmakers adapting stage plays make the mistake of focusing on how to "open up the action", how to make the play more "cinematic". This time around, Foley does absolutely right by David Mamet's play, realizing that what makes a great theatre-to-film transfer isn't variety of locations or cinematic razzle-dazzle, but focus on the characters and the dialogue. The characters in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS are real-estate salesman each at a different point in his career- Lemmon is the old pro long past his prime, Pacino's the smooth-talker currently riding a hot streak, Harris is a middle-aged man who's getting fed up with the new ways, and so on. The film introduces the men, then stirs them up when it's discovered that one of them stole a batch of precious "leads" which would allow him to get the upper hand on the rest of the salesmen. Figuring out who stole the leads occupies much of the film's second half, but this mystery also illuminates the desperation of all the salesmen, who put forth a great deal of effort with little payoff. Great acting too, by the entire cast, particularly Lemmon as a modern-day Willy Loman coming to grips with his own obsolescence.

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