A FilmExposed Film Review
Dir: Stuart Gordon, 2005, USA, 82mins
Cast: William H Macy, Rebecca Pidgeon, Denise Richards, Bai Ling, Mena Suvari, Wendy Thompson, George Wendt, Bokeem Woodbine
Scriptwriter David Mamet wrote the play that became Edmond in 1982 while going through a bitter divorce but despite the fact that it begins with a man walking out on his wife, donít make the mistake of thinking that itís in any way autobiographical. The title character, a sad loser played, stereotypically, by William H Macy has nothing in common with the controversial master who created Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) and Oleanna (1994). Part of the problem with the film is that Edmond doesnít really have anything in common with anyone.
Initially it seems that his closest counterpart might be Michael Douglasís quintessential angry white man in Falling Down (1993) but Edmondís problems go way beyond a bad day and a midlife crisis. For a start, heís implausibly naive. As he goes downtown in search of no-strings sex, the first half of the film consists of pretty much the same scene repeated over and over again. He visits a stripper, then a prostitute, and then a cardsharp and each time heís confused and shocked to discover that the service they provide is expensive and not terribly rewarding.
Admittedly, you would be confused if you went to a seedy strip bar or a low-rent brothel and found Denise Richards, Bai Ling or Mena Suvari working there. Itís a mark of the filmís pretension that the producers enlisted name-acting talent for roles that, if they were honest with themselves, just call for a pretty face and nice breasts and not much else.
But then just when we get the point that these scenes are supposed to be funny the film takes a dramatic plunge into the macabre. It also abandons all concern with realism in favour of some heavy-handed philosophical posturing. This is unfortunate for the normally excellent Macy whoís left unsuccessfully trying to give a semblance of humanity to an unconvincing symbol of the middle-aged white man in crisis. His problems, though, are nothing compared with that of the black and female characters, who have no personality whatsoever and who are there purely to make Mametís points about sex, violence, fear and desire.
The filmís main thesis seems to be that we secretly desire the things that we fear the most. Itís an interesting idea but itís not so much explored as plonked down on the table as a statement of fact. Maybe in theatreland, where audiences often seem to have very low standards, you can get away with this sort of thing, but cinema audiences tend to want characters they can believe in and, ideally, a decent plot.