State and Main


Lounge lizard. The film's big Hollywood star Bob Berrenger (Baldwin) has a thing for underage girls...
dir-scr David Mamet
with William H Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alec Baldwin, Julia Stiles, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rebecca Pidgeon, David Paymer, Clark Gregg, Charles Durning, Patti LuPone, Ricky Jay, Jim Frangione
FineLine 00/US 4 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
David Mamet switches gear from searing drama to breezy comedy, and the result is one of the most enjoyable movie movies in years. State and Main is an ensemble farce with teeth.

Thrown out of New Hampshire, director Walt Price (Macy) has to find a New England town quickly to make his period epic The Old Mill. And Waterford, Vermont, is perfect, complete with the two locations they need: a vintage fire station and an old mill. Then they discover there are a few problems. And are the locals ready for an invasion from Hollywood bigwig superstars like leading man Bob Berrenger (Baldwin), who has a predilection for teen girls, or starlet Claire Wellesley (Parker), who is having second thoughts about her nude scene? Meanwhile, the writer (Hoffman) is having rewrite crises, while the producer (Paymer) tries to unruffle as many feathers as possible.

And on and on. Mamet has created a town-full of terrific characters, each going through their own little journey, bouncing off the others hilariously with plots, counterplots, romance and revenge. All accompanied by Mamet's razor-sharp, very funny dialog. It's hard to pick a standout among the terrific cast, but Hoffman shines as usual, and Macy gets the best lines as the frazzled leader holding everything together ("It's not a lie, it's a gift for fiction!"). The film sags a bit when a legal subplot threatens to take over, but it snaps back smoothly in the end, bringing into the story the themes of the film within the film--second chances, purity and, most importantly, truth. And there's a fantastic final punchline.

[15--themes, language] 26.Oct.00 lff
US release 22.Dec.00; UK release 16.Feb.01

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall