Review by Paul Stathakis | 2006

Macy's most terrifying hour

Edmond Burke (William H. Macy) is a lost soul, a man in his mid-forties who wants to feel alive again and who wants to be wanted by another woman. A tarot reading session alters his life, especially when the tarot reader informs him that he is in a place he shouldn’t be. Edmond decides to leave his wife. “Then why do you decide you’re leaving me now?” asks his wife. “I’ve had enough,” says Macy without a hint of pity in his confession. The answer is not sufficient for his wife who asks him again, “Yes, but why now?” Edmond serves her with another bitter reply: “Because you don’t interest me spiritually or sexually.” For an actor who typically portrays good-hearted characters, Edmond is somewhat of a departure role for William H. Macy.

At a bar, he meets a man (Joe Mantegna) who never introduces himself. As the two watch a basketball game on the television, they begin to converse about life and the man offers Edmond his opinion: “You need to get laid.” Edmond agrees and the man refers him to a nightclub.  “Try the Allegro”, says the man as he slips a card with the club’s address to Edmond.

Edmond is one of David Mamet’s darkest works. The Chicago-born playwright is not new to stories dealing with deceiving characters that are similarly desperate. Edmond is such a character and we spend an entire night with him as he walks down the mean streets of an unidentified city.  He tries his luck with several women. One woman in a nightclub tells him she can show him a good time for fifty dollars. Edmond accepts her offer but then she asks him to first buy her a drink. The cost of the drink exceeds the woman’s offer and so Edmond refuses to pay for any drink.  A guard quickly escorts him towards the exit doors.  Edmond is a film about a character who sits on a road to self-destruction. We wonder just what brought out this side in him.  Has the city transformed him or is Edmond revealing beliefs and behaviors that have been bottled up inside of him all along?  Could the tarot reading session have opened his eyes to a sinister reality?  What possesses Edmond to trade his wedding ring for a World War I knife?  Because we know very little about Edmond, we wonder what causes him to become such a raging and dangerous man.

Roger Ebert noted that William H. Macy has become an actor as lovable as Christopher Walken. Whenever we see any of the two in a movie, we can’t help but smile and admire their presence however long or short.  But here Macy shies away from his “good guy with a big heart” persona and he becomes a mean, relentless, rude, and, yes, psychopathic man.  There is not a single moment in which we expect Edmond to go from rags to riches.  We understand how severe his situation is when he begins to complain to a waitress (Julia Stiles) after they’ve just finished having sex.  When they are done, Edmond describes to the girl how he was assaulted on the street and how he overpowered the mugger.  And he explains this in great detail with a knife in his hand. What follows are two shocking scenes that are hair-raising to say the least.

The third act of the movie re-introduces us to Edmond.  He looks different, speaks differently and he goes to sleep with a smile on his face.  The main question that Stuart Gordon’s drama answers is why.  Why does Edmond finally feel comfortable with his surrounding in the end?  What was he searching for?  How has he finally found it?  “Edmond” is not a popular movie. If it had been released by a major studio, Macy would’ve received accolades for his work.  Although few people have heard about or seen it, “Edmond” was selected at the 2005 Venice Film Festival.  Somewhere out there the movie is available but anyone who decides to watch it should see it with a blanket in hand.  There are certain moments where you may want to hide from Edmond.  Yes, that haunting.


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