Reviews

Glengarry Glen Ross

3

Al Pacino and Alec Baldwin star in harsh, shouty movie about real estate

Remember your ABCs: “Alwa ys. Be. Closing.”

The irony of Alec Baldwin’s hotshot heckling the deadbeat salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross is that the actor was preaching to the converted.

This film already knows how to close.

David Mamet’s savage, profane odyssey about the fag-end of the American Dream was a smash on the stage.

Even so, the film adap was seen as risky, with its non-sequitur title (it refers to two of the land developments being flogged) and Madonna-promo director James Foley an unusual choice as director.

Why worry? Mamet attracted a great ensemble: alongside Baldwin, there’s also Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey.

Technically the lead role, Pacino’s Ricky Roma is really a smokescreen for the battle between veteran Lemmon – an anguished, agonising bundle of nerves – and relative newcomer Spacey, determined to serve notice of A-list ambition.

But everybody has to up their game against Baldwin, whose blistering cameo was written especially, to shore up the play’s sometimes abstruse premise.

Foley trusts the material, opening out the early stages only to then exaggerate the second half’s office-bound claustrophobia.

A filmed play? Sure, but Foley’s sensitive cutting and prowling camerawork create a dynamic space for the actors to shine.

Tellingly, the cast showed up on days off just to watch their co-stars. It’s dated only by a reliance on payphones, making it one of the last great films of the pre-mobile age.

In every other way, it remains plausible.

With the world gripped by another recession, who’d bet against receiving a call from a jittery salesman desperate to close?

(Old) extras include a Foley commentary, Inside The Actors Studio clips and Lemmon tribute.

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