New Movies -
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Old Movies -
Touki Bouki: The Journey of the Hyena
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry
Recap: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 , 2005, 2006, 2007 , 2008 , 2009 , 2010 , 2011 , 2012
Edmond (Stuart Gordon, 2005)
Although the 1990s were unkind to horror maestro Stuart Gordon, this decade has seen the director quietly return to form with a series of lean, mean, finely crafted films that show the fierce sensibility behind the cult hit Re-Animator still at work. Although Dagon, 2001’s H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, found Gordon well within his comfort zone, it was undeniably the finest work from the director in over a decade. The grisly neo-noir King of the Ants, which came next, was even more unexpected. A revenge thriller that sidestepped the horror genre, it focused on the descent of an ordinary working man into madness. Filled with effectively brutal violence and a shockingly disturbing plot, it suggested a side to Gordon that was rarely hinted at in his previous films. Thanks to the groundwork laid by Ants, Gordon’s choice to adapt David Mamet’s provocative one-act play Edmond is not a shocking one, but its depiction of a bigoted businessman (William H. Macy) run amok naturally extends the director’s oeuvre into exciting territory.
Mamet’s screenplay, like all of his work, is heavily stylized, and Gordon doesn’t shy away from it. He imbues the New York City streets where the film is set with an otherworldliness that foretells the madness that overtakes Edmond in the same way that Kubrick’s phony cityscape turned Eyes Wide Shut into a tour of its protagonist’s psyche. The entire film is dominated by a queasy tone that threatens to take each of Edmond’s transactional dealings over the edge into violence. Gordon controls each scene well enough, and Mamet veteran Macy’s inherent skittishness adds a lot to the role, but although he seems perfectly cast, his performance is the film’s greatest liability. Macy’s quite good here, but he’s not good enough. He delivers the staccato dialogue without missing a beat, but somehow a firmer picture of Edmond’s mental state never emerges from his performance. As a result, Edmond ends up as an effectively pitched shock piece that never manages to achieve any greater resonance, despite the invocation of a half-dozen audience-alienating psychological afflictions. Mamet goes for the jugular of the privileged white male, but his attempts to make Edmond representative of a larger societal malaise mostly fall flat because Edmond himself is so obviously a flimsy screenwriter’s device. Nonetheless, Gordon insures that the film is full of virtue. His insistent emphases on the script’s suspense elements push the movie into an unpredictable danger zone, making it a consistently stimulating viewing experience.