Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) / Drama
MPAA Rated: R for strong language
Running Time: 100 min.
Cast: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Jonathan Pryce, Alec Baldwin, Bruce Altman, Jude Ciccolella
Director: James Foley
Screenplay: David Mamet (based on his play)
Review published December 30, 2004
Although David Mamet's adapted play Glengarry Glen Ross offers an often fascinating brief look into the world of high-pressure real estate salesmen, it's mostly just a showcase for some terrific acting and smart dialogue. If you enjoy seeing some of the finest actors in Hollywood at the top of their game, this is the movie for you. It's also another terrific script written by David Mamet (The Untouchables, Heist), sparkling with colorful dialogue (and many times off color). Even if the film may be knocked by some as talky and claustrophobic, there's too much talent on display for drama lovers to not be reeled in to the story, even if the subject matter doesn't exactly lend well to the cinematic experience.
A Chicago boiler room has come under the scrutiny of the main office for under-producing, which the salesmen blame on the bad leads they have been given of late. They send out the local hotshot to motivate the men, promising a car to the one who can sell the most in a week, and to the two who are the lowest, a pink slip. In addition, the winner will get the holy grail for salesman, the vaunted Glengarry leads, which are sitting in the manager's office waiting for the results of the contest. The men are desperate, feeling the screw tighten on their lives, which only gets worse when someone breaks into the office and steals the leads right out from under their noses. This is one boiler room that is about to boil over.
Really, it's a tour-de-force of outstanding method acting, with Mamet's highly charged verbosity providing the fuel to the fire between them. Al Pacino (Heat, Scarface) delivers his customary greatness, showing that he can play things with a quiet touch just as effectively as when he is in a rage. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Jack Lemmon's (Some Like It Hot, The Apartment) outstanding performance as the salesman under the most pressure to sell. Some viewers may find the amount of profanity to be somewhat hard to on the ears, but it's done with integrity and not gratuity.
Glengarry Glen Ross is a thinking man's drama, perhaps too dry and stagy for some mainstream audiences, but it's not in the message, but the delivery where the film scores the most points. No gunfire, no explosions, just acid-laced contempt and hatred bubbling under the surface. Guts and glory filmmaking of the highest order.
©2004 Vince Leo