Thursday, April 22, 2010

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)


Threatened with being fired if they can't make it to the top of their sales board, three salesmen (Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, and Ed Harris) clash with their young manager (Kevin Spacey) over the lack in quality of their leads. Meanwhile the current hot shot (Al Pacino) works to make his last big sale of the month on the unsuspecting James Lingk (Jonathan Pryce).

Performance films are inherently very difficult to review. The power of the performances and characters laid out before the audience often push plot and directing to the background. And in many ways Glengarry Glen Ross is a film that plays out much like a theatrical play. Fixated on a couple of locations we follow our group of main characters as they deal with the various situations before them.

Each conversation opening up a new spectrum of a character's personality. Each playing to the backdrop of a tough guy, tough sell, world, where money made is the bottom line. The speech by Alec Baldwin in the first 15 minutes lays the groundwork for this mentality. The mentality that if you can't make money for your company you're nothing. It's a harsh point of view, but one none to uncommon, and perhaps far too prevalent.

Though that's what allows Glengarry to succeed so amazingly. Glengarry shows what happens to men pushed to the edge of the corporate machine. How each person will react differently, and the ultimate personal consequences of said reactions.

The dynamic shared between them is captured with great marvel for the performance by Foley. He works the camera to really highlight the facial expressions, and talent he has available. While at the same time understanding the limitations of his story. The plot is the characters, and what they ultimately do, or don't do, over the course of these two days. He doesn't get fancy, and he doesn't get obsessed with cutting. He places the camera on the performers, and allows them to take the script to that next level.

Of course when Mamet steps up to the plate with brilliantly done writing, every performer would feel that empowerment. The characters, the structure, and of course, the dialogue, all give such a natural flow to the events. Giving an uncanny sense of reality to the whole scenario, that makes it so relatable.

Put it all together and Glengarry Glenn Ross becomes a film real performers dream of. A highlight to the craft of acting, and capturing the realism of life through steadfast direction and writing.

Glengarry Glen Ross is one of those rare films where each performance feels like a gift for the viewer. Nicely wrapped up in captivating characters, each with a great deal of depth, and ambition. We see their highs and lows, and what makes them who they truly are. For that, it's well beyond the price of any admission.

3 better thoughts:

Sasha (The Final Girl Project) said...

Yeah. This is pretty much one of my favourite movies of all time. Glad you loved it also.

Castor said...

Great movie and a cult classic entirely carried by the fantastic acting from hall of fame actors


Tom said...

One time, I watched the edited version for television, which was interesting.

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