R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Stuart Gordon
scr David Mamet
with William H Macy, Julia Stiles, Rebecca Pidgeon, Bokeem Woodbine, Joe Mantegna, Mena Suvari, Denise Richards, Debi Mazar, Dulé Hill, Dylan Walsh, Bai Ling, George Wendt
release US 14.Jul.06, UK 6.Jul.07
06/US Tartan 1h22
Wrong number: Macy and Bai

stiles pidgeon woodbine


Edmond David Mamet's sharp take on human nature is like a slap in the face in this striking adaptation of his stage play about a man whose fears find him out.

Edmond Burke (Macy) is a New York businessman thoughtlessly going through his easy life when a fortune-teller says, "You are not where you belong." Spurred to sudden honesty, he tells his wife (Pidgeon) that he's bored with her, then heads out into the city, where which his deepest prejudices and frustrations are brought to the surface in encounters with a lap dancer (Richards), a hooker (Suvari) and a barmaid (Stiles) who all fail to live up to his fantasies. He's also mugged, conned and assaulted. So he strikes back.

Yes, it's all a bit heavy-handed, in that theatrical way in which every action and word has a profound and provocative meaning. Freed from his stiff life, Edmond tries to wallow in his liberation, forgetting that there are still rules in society. So all of those ugly things he has repressed and controlled come exploding to the surface, including his misogyny, racism and homophobia. And it's specifically these three things that come back to haunt him.

Macy is marvellous in the role, somehow keeping us interested in Edmond's odyssey even though we feel very little sympathy when he is disappointed or victimised. He's such a great everyman that he always feels real, even when the events get horribly nasty due to Edmond's deliberate behaviour. And he bounces off his fine supporting cast with the perfect blend of pathetic cluelessness, inner vitriol and acidic humour.

Gordon films in a style that matches Mamet's dialog: brisk and crackling with unexpected bursts of energy. The film has a jazzy feel as it continually changes directions, getting increasingly dark and seedy even as it maintains a blackly comedic tone. This is a man desperate to find his true self, and the fact that he heads out for this hopefully wild night wearing a black suit probably tells us everything we need to know. In the end, it's these rather too-obvious touches that keep the message from really moving us.

cert 18 themes, language, violence, sexuality 14.Feb.07

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Edmond Steve Kusheloff,Sunbury, Pennsylvania: 4/5 "An excellent movie if you like good writing, and true-to-life portrayals, in this case, a portrayal of a middle class man's spiral down and through urban hell. But not a good movie if you enjoy watching cops figure out crimes. The cops don't figure it out - they just blurt it out." (20.Feb.07)
© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall