Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross

****1/2

Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

To save you wasting your time, if you’re looking for a conventional three-act movie with some action, a few funnies and a little romance then you might as well hit the bricks, pal. On the other hand, if you’re interested in a talky, character-driven drama that skewers the American dream, you’ll be signing on the dotted line. Boasting plenty of breathless, profanity-laden dialogue and – arguably - one of the best casts in memory, James Foley’s adaptation of David Mamet’s stage play doesn’t entertain – it compels.

When the sales team at a small real estate office are underperforming, they receive a surprise visit from a no-nonsense motivational speaker (Alec Baldwin). However, instead of inspiring, he warns the four salesmen that the bottom two will be fired. Shocked, the past-his-best Levine (Jack Lemmon), irritable big-mouth Moss (Ed Harris), agreeable George and on-form Roma (Pacino) scramble to make sales while the by-the-book office manager Williamson (Kevin Spacey) keeps the good sales leads locked away.

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Sure, as with most movies adapted from the stage, mainstream viewers will be bored, as nothing really happens apart from guys talking and talking while repeating themselves (and repeating themselves). However, for those willing to embrace it, Mamet’s script sizzles as he nails the ruthless, leave-your-morals-at-the-door world of salesmanship as these four men on the edge use every weapon in their arsenal to sell to those who don’t want to be sold. Never anything less than gripping, perhaps the most interesting aspect is how every conversation – no matter who it’s between – ends up as a battle of two men slyly pitching their ideas onto the other.

Of course, it helps when you have a cast this stellar. Spacey as the straight-laced, unpopular man-in-charge, Al Pacino as the heartless young hotshot, Harris as the mouthy, blame-shifter… there’s class everywhere you look. Indeed, you know you’ve got a top notch ensemble when the likes of Alan Arikin and Jonathan Price are supporting players.

Then there’s the late, great Lemmon who oozes class, shifting effortlessly from oldschool-veteran-on-a-bad-run to tragic-all-but-finished-salesman and managing – somehow – to imbue him with sympathy. Still, when all’s said and done its Baldwin’s dazzling cameo that you’ll take away, his hard-ass sales guru doesn’t so much grab the screen as electrify it with a begging-to-be-quoted tirade of verbal zingers. “The leads are weak? F**king leads are weak? (points) You’re weak!”

Great cast, great dialogue, great Baldwin cameo, great movie. And that’s a pitch that you should believe.

Reviewed on: 10 Feb 2010
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Competition hots up in a real estate office when the employees are told their jobs are on the line.
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