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Edmond (AF)

7/10

Stars: William H Macy, Julia Stiles, Dule Hill, Joe Mantegna, Denise Richards, Mena Suvari, Rebecca Pidgeon, Dylan Walsh, Jeffrey Combs, George Wendt, Bokeem Woodbine, Bai Ling


Director: Stuart Gordon

If ever a movie and a television channel - in this case Channel 4 - were made for each other, this stark melodrama most definitely is. Macy’s bleak, bitter but altogether mesmerising journey from white-collar normality through a metropolitan nightmare and into incarceration– a heady brew of sexually unequivocal, resolutely foul-mouthed, violent ‘18’ certificate sensationalism - appears to be congruent with just about everything C4 programming seems to stand for.

In fact, Edmond, elegantly opened up for the screen by David Mamet from his 1983 one-act play (despite some perilously stagy dialogue) avoids a charge of exploitation thanks to Gordon’s sustained direction and atmospheric location cinematography (Denis Maloney) of some of New York’s sleazier mean streets - but mostly to Macy’s stunning tour de force.

His descent into urban hell begins when a fortune teller informs him “You are not where you belong”. Without any idea as to where he might actually belong, Macy leaves his wife Pidgeon (Mamet’s real-life spouse) and, after listening to racist Mantegna ranting misanthropically in a bar, sets out to find sex in the city and, one assumes, some kind of salvation. Salvation is absent. After close encounters of the sordid kind in grubby peepshows and a brothel and being beaten up and robbed, he ends up in bed with waitress Stiles but ends up slaughtering her and landing in jail. I admired Kenneth Branagh’s dazzling Edmond at the National. Macy is even better. Not an easy or comfortable film to watch but compelling, nonetheless.

Alan Frank

USA 2005. UK Distributor: Tartan. Colour by CFI.
82 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 02 Jul 2007