Macy makes Mamet work

PUBLISHED: 14:59 11 July 2007 | UPDATED: 14:35 07 September 2010

Edmond (18) Director Stuart Gordon Starring William H. Macy, Julia Stiles, Joe Montegna, Rebecca Pidgeon, Denise Richards, Mena Suvari. 82 mins Three star rating American playwright David Mamet has risen to such rarefied and stylised heights that it s a

Edmond (18)

Director Stuart Gordon Starring William H. Macy, Julia Stiles, Joe Montegna, Rebecca Pidgeon, Denise Richards, Mena Suvari. 82 mins

Three star rating

American playwright David Mamet has risen to such rarefied and stylised heights that it's almost redundant to discuss his work in terms of being good or bad. It's just more Mamet, take it or leave it.

Edmond, a 2005 film version of a 1982 play, is a black comedy that needles at America's racial fault line. It feels bold and urgent yet simultaneously idle and heartless; something that he might've knocked off in an afternoon when he felt in a mood to put a few backs up.

William H. Macy is the title character, an office worker who decides that he's mad as hell and is not going to take it any more - seemingly provoked by seeing a couple snogging in a lift and having a meeting rearranged. An encounter with a fortune teller and a racial epithet-filled motivation lecture from a stranger he meets in a bar sends him reeling into the city's nocturnal underbelly in an expression of white pride and masculinity that initially involves haggling over price with various prostitutes.

Mamet isn't directing this time, though you'd be hard pressed to notice. Gordon, who built up a reputation in the 80s as a director of horror with film like the Re-Animator, faithfully adopts the Mamet style of blank intensity. The only innovation is the use of bits of Bernard Herrmann's classic Taxi Driver score, a jarring and surely ironic choice.

Mamet's cagey provocations are getting rather hard to take. He pushes his characters (and audiences) to extremes but once there leaves them hanging. His vision is too hermetically sealed to really enlighten.

But he's still a writer of funny dialogue and there is something genuinely disturbing about this character. Macy has the deadpan dexterity to do justice to Mamet's intricate dialogue and he's compelling as a man who jabbers out every half formed thought that enters his head, yet remains completely unknowable throughout.


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