Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), Cert 18.

Director - James Foley.

Writer - David Mamet.

Starring - Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey & Jonathan Pryce.

Premise - Four men that work for a real estate agency are given a shock when they are told that unless they pick up their ideas and close some deals they will be fired. How will each man react to the news?

There is a semi-regular character in 'The Simpsons' called 'Gil'. In his first appearance he was a real estate salesman, he was frankly, a pathetic specimen. Gil is a mere shadow of a man, trying to live off his former glories in order to make enough money to provide for his family. Since his first appearance Gil has gone on to appear in many more episodes and has had various other jobs, none with any amount of success. He's a funny character and one of my favorite recurring ones alongside 'Disco Stu'.

Where is this going you are asking yourself? Well, it is only after watching Glengarry Glen Ross that I realised that Gil was obviously based heavily around Jack Lemmon's character Shelley 'The Machine' Levene. It's quite an obvious parody, but Lemmon doesn’t make you laugh at his antics, rather he makes you feel deeply sorry for how far this man has slid and what he is willing to do in order to make ends meet.

It's a stunning, tour de force performance from Lemmon, whom is an actor from which I have seen little of his 'serious' output. Here, as Levene he trawls the depths of despair as a once great salesman that is on the slide of his life. The look on his face late on in the film where it is revealed that his big close may be a crock is just heartbreaking.

One stand out performance might be enough for your standard film, but Glengarry Glen Ross boasts seven stunning pieces of work. Truly, I think this may the best work by an ensemble cast that I have ever seen. I was talking about this film to a friend at work and I called it, 'an acting masterclass.' and that's what it is.

All concerned are on top, top form. Al Pacino (amazingly the only cast member to gain an Oscar nomination) as 'in the zone' salesman Ricky Roma is cocky and sure of himself, but never at the expense of his respect for those that have gone before him. Alan Arkin's George Aaronow lacks confidence and is easily led astray, how he lasted so long in the real estate business is a real wonder.

David Moss (Ed Harris) is headstrong and disrespectful. He cares little for anyone else and is willing to do pretty much anything to save his own butt. Kevin Spacey is the office manager Williamson and he is perfectly suited to this kind of straight laced, by the book guy. He takes pleasure in dishing out the crappy leads and the joy on his face as he rumbles one of the salesmen late on is perfect.

Outside of the amazing Lemmon the actor that leaves his mark on the film the most is Alec Baldwin (jeez, never thought I would be saying that!). He has one scene, but it is a barn stormer. He comes into the office and lays down the law. His speech is unrelenting and powerful, it makes you wonder why he is toiling in DTV hell if he is capable of doing work of this calibre. Last, but certainly not least is Jonathan Pryce as Roma's latest mark. He is suckered in by Roma's patter, but is sent back with his tail behind his legs by his wife the next day.

Speaking of wives, this is a film about men. Women are rarely seen and never heard. Glengarry Glen Ross is primarily a tale about working men trying to make a living to put food on the table. A fascinating look at what lengths a man will go to keep his pride and make ends meet.

The script, which was adapted by David Mamet from his own stage play, is sharp, witty and cutting. Yes, there is a lot of swearing, but it's not excessive given the kind of people in the film. The cut throat world of real estate sales calls for such expletives and Mamet delivers.

As the film is adapted from a play, it is dialogue heavy, but the quality of the acting means you are never more than enthralled by what is taking place on screen. Director James Foley really needs to do little more than point his camera at the actors and let them go to work.

Glengarry Glen Ross is a prime example of what can be accomplished with a collection of fine actors and a superlative script. It is simply a stunning and highly enjoyable piece of modern cinema. Oh, and remember, Always Be Closing............


8/10 for Glengarry Glen Ross.

Poster Quote - Follow the lead.