My 100 favourite films. Entry #27: Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross (1993)
directed by James Foley
written by David Mamet
starring Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Jonathan Pryce and Alec Baldwin
country: usa
genre: drama

Visuals: 7
Writing: 10
Everyday watchability: 5
Number of times somebody says the word "fuck": 138

After talking about such a visual movie as Munchausen, I thought that I should talk about a more dialogue-driven film. That's not to say that the visuals in Glengarry aren't great; they simply serve the film in a much different way. They're simpler, more straight-forward and focus on showing the necessary characters in the frame. In this, they succeed at every turn. Our attention is drawn to all the right places: Pacino's rage; Alec Baldwin's "balls of steel" as Kevin Spacey poses safely in the background; Alan Arkin's posture as he watches Ed Harris steam over a cigarette. Characters even manage to sneak into the frame at times, with the background of the frame often being more dominant than the foreground.

The two things that make this movie truly great however are the writing and the acting. The script is adapted by Mamet himself from his play, and it's as close to perfect as a screenplay can get (as far as I'm concerned). I'm not going to call it realistic (because what is realism anyway?), but it portrays exactly what it wants. We get a sense of all the characters from very few lines of dialog. That feat might not be so easy without such a great cast of actors. This movie has to have one of the greatest ensemble performances I've ever seen. I really don't know what more to say about that because I'm practically in awe after every watching of the film.


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