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
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