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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