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Glengarry Glen Ross

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Glengarry Glen Ross

Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon
Director: James Foley
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: September 1992
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce, Jude Ciccolella, Bruce Altman

Review by Pedro Sena
3 stars out of 4

This is a depressing film, and story. But if you can get by all that, you ought to appreciate some dynamite acting, the type that you hope to catch on a stage at least ONCE in your lifetime.

Like the play, to which this is faithful almost to the last letter, this piece is one of David Mamet's best known pieces of work. And while it is not a fancy piece, or a Broadway piece of shlock, this is what the theatre loves to have around, as a chance to blow audiences all over, and allow the actors a chance to shine. Glengarry Glen Ross is about just that.

It is the story of a few down and out real estate salesmen that are in one office, who are at the end of their ropes. Their selling abilities are now moved into a new style of hype and slickness, that underlies all the characters. Only that these guys have not updated their game to the new ways and styles. It seems that this particular office is now relegated to the junk departments, or to the lists that are left overs, and to try and sell some property to tenants that have been targeted for years, but have never given in. Downtown, all the salesmen are getting all the new leads. But here, they never see a new lead, because none of these guys has the talent to sell them, or they have not sold anything in so long that they have forgotten how to sell.

And the characters panic, scream, talk, lie, and do what they can to book the client that might just get them a chance to try and sell one of the prime pieces of properties around, which are the new dwellings in Glengarry Glen. And to this extent, one, two, or three, it is never really clear, of the salesmen, conspire to rob the office and steal the list of new leads, with the hope of getting a chance to sell one or two of those properties.

And the rest of the play is a series of moments trying to find out who exactly did it, because the two who seemed to have planned it, may not have been involved in it at all.

The two acting jobs that stand out are Jack Lemmon ( Oscar Nomination ) and Al Pacino, the two aging selling superstars, now trying so hard to close yet another deal which might save their job. Accolades regarding their ability, and their smoothness, is just about impossible... there are not enough words to describe acting in this level.

The weakest part in this film, believe it or not, is the directing. As a play, this is ready for "movement", and the lines has quite a bit of it, and the characters use it very well. The director is afraid to keep his camera still, and many times gets caught off guard by the charging actor. The angularity with which David Mamet loves to work with, is not at all clear here in this film, something which is readily visible on stage. It moves in small concentric circles from this space to the next. We might have been able to enjoy this better if we had just placed these actors in a building, tore down the fourth wall, and just turned the camera on ... and watch them kill themselves trying so hard. To make a close up, for emotionality's sakes, is un-necessary, and a bit of film idiom, that is wasted here.

But this film, despite a flaw that is questionable by this reviewer, still is about the one thing that we need so much in this country. Live theatre... this is IT, at its finest. If you ever wonder where these people learned their craft, take a good look.

Copyright 1994 Pedro Sena

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