It’s a dark art, selling someone something they don’t want to buy. Well, convincing them they do want to buy, they just don’t know it yet...
David Mamet’s profane, ruthless script skewers the gung-ho agonies of ageing cold-callers at a Chicago real estate office. On a drizzly summer evening, the company ships in old-hand Alec Baldwin to deliver a pep-talk to the underperformers (“The fucking leads are weak? You’re weak!”). They all have their pitches: Moss (Ed Harris) is jaded but avuncular, George (Alan Arkin) is by-the-book mediocre while Roma (Al Pacino) treats selling as seduction, wooing with booze and schmooze before whipping out his contract.
Best, though, is the eminently huggable Jack Lemmon as Sheldon ‘The Machine’ Levene – the tarnished past pattermaster whose talent for weaselling into the domestic world of his quarry has become outmoded, creepy and desperate. Mamet uses him as a whipping boy, exposing the hollow heartlessness of this “world of men”. Alternate title: Death Of A Real Estate Salesman.
But, above and beyond the no-flab structure, alpha male willy-waving and breathless dialogue, lies one simple truth... Any film in which Al Pacino calls Kevin Spacey a “stupid fucking cunt” surely deserves a chunk of your hard-earned.