Just saw this last night. I don’t usually like plays adapted to film; they’re different kinds of mediums and don’t, IMO, really complement each other, but I liked it.
The cast was amazing. Jack Lemmon as almost a split personality; tired and worn-out normally, then suddenly radiating this oily intensity when he’s trying to make a sale or talk his way out of something. And Al Pacino; totally dishonest and immoral in his work, but still with a weird kind of sentiment about it, like it was an art-form. Kevin Spacey doesn’t get all that much to say but he does a lot with expressions; the smug look when he’s standing behind the successful guy harassing them, the mixture of shame and irritation when he’s screwed up Pacino’s deal and then finally, an almost completely blank look with just a hint of gloating as he chews bubble-gum and gets ready to have Lemmon arrested.
I particularly liked the understated way it ended; Lemmon is called away by the cop, Pacino, still not knowing anything is wrong, walks out the door, and business is still going on. Then a very inappropriately upbeat, but very appropriately rapidly pitched, song plays as the credits roll.
What, no mention of Alec Baldwin and the “coffee is for closers” speech??!! One of the great monologues in motion picture history. He steals the movie.
Oh yeah, Jack Lemmon was ROBBED of an Oscar nom for this movie. Totally robbed. Whenever I watch it I still can’t believe he didn’t get a nomination, it was one of the great roles in his career. I even think Baldwin was more deserving of a nomination than Al Pacino, who DID get nominated for supporting actor.
I think the problem with screen adaptations is that stage dialogue is written to play on the tension inherent to live performance. Language that works on stage often comes off stilted and false on film. I agree with you that Glengarry,Glenross is a noteable exception.
Lemmon is outstanding. Without exposition, you understand that this was a once proud man who has been utterly decimated. His time has passed, his style no longer works, he commands no respect, his entire life has essentially come to nothing. Pacino is perfect as personification of the manipulative, amoral, high-pressure type which displaced Lemmon’s ilk. Although Spacey had a small part, I liked him best here and in his “Kyser Soze” role. He is OK in other stuff, but too often I find myself thinking “oh look, Kevin Spacey is acting again.”
Agreed with pretty much everything I’ve seen here. It’s rare that you can do this with a play, and the outstanding cast is a big reason this movie works. You don’t often see an assembly of talent like that.