Sunday, August 4, 2013

Movie #204: Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross is a drama based on a play by David Mamet, so right away you know it's going to be a bunch of men cursing a lot. The movie stars Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin (briefly), Alan Arkin, Ed Harris...I guess that's all.

So! All these guys are salesman. They sell property, I guess, real estate? Anyway, Shelley Levene (Lemmon), Dave Moss (Harris) and George Aaronow (Arkin) haven't been doing especially well of late, and they get a visit from a high-rolling salesman from higher up in the company (Baldwin), who basically tells them they either sell or they fuck off. Ricky Roma (Pacino) misses this meeting, but he's the top seller anyway.

The rest of the movie is largely cutting between Aaronow and Moss planning to rob the office, Roma talking with a mark (Jonathan Pryce), and Levene trying desperately to get a promising lead off the manager, Williamson (Spacey) and make enough money to pay for an unspecified medical procedure for his daughter.

And then the office is robbed, and the police show up, and there's more arguing, cursing, and yelling, and eventually Shelly confesses that he and Moss did the robbery. The movie ends with Roma effortlessly getting a lead, and Aaronow finally saying what everyone thinks: "I hate this job," as he sits down to chase leads.

The acting in the movie is amazing. Everyone is spot-on, fast, and brutal, even Jack Lemmon, and it's fun to see him display some teeth before immediately dropping down into terror and pathetic-ness. Pacino is Pacino, but he manages some vulnerability when his deal goes south. This is young Kevin Spacey, but you can see seeds of greatness here. Really the whole cast is great.

The script is well-written, but it's so fucking bleak. (Mamet, man.) And, honestly, it's hard to care. I mean, none of these people are especially likeable. The ones that we feel for the most are Levene (who at least has a strong motivation for what he does), and we would feel a bit for Williamson, maybe, for being so put-upon...except he deliberately gives Levene a lead that takes him to a delusional couple that likes talking to salesmen, which means that sale he thought he made is worthless. So really, fuck these guys.

And "guys" is the right word. The only woman you even see in the movie is a woman working at the Chinese restaurant where they all hang out. Others are mentioned, but never in any way that lets you know anything about them.

Incidentally, there was a live read of this movie (not the play, the movie) with an all-female cast that I really wish I could see somewhere. Robin Wright as Ricky Roma, Catherine O'Hara as Levene, and so on.

My grade: B+
Rewatch value: Low

Next up: Godspell