Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
In Glengarry Glen Ross, we meet Willy Loman's logical offspring forty years later. Here in David Mamet's version, it's no longer about pursuing the American dream, at least there's no dreaming involved. Here, the salesmen (real estate brokers) are captives on domestic ground. The hunter has become the hunted – by their own unattainable targets, and by a society exhausted by its neverending race for success and increased profits.
Mamet's script (from his own award-winning play) is extremely crisp. He brings to life a selfish, abrasive milieu, a modernized version of what Dickens portrayed in Oliver Twist. "The grabbing hands grab all they can" claims Martin L. Gore – which is the perfect soundtrack for Glengarry Glen Ross. And under James Foley's direction, the nature of the play is kept, to riveting effect. His camera work is simple – stuck on his actors' faces, scrutinizing them, giving them nowhere to hide. Bringing us closer to these people than they get to themselves.
This is a wise move by Foley, because it brings on some marvellous powerhouse performances by a set of fine actors. Ed Harris and Kevin Spacey deliver their best work to date, and Al Pacino is fantastic – especially towards the end. But it is Jack Lemmon who steals the show as Shelley Levene. That he wasn't Oscar-nominated for this performance is one of the biggest blunders in the history of the Academy. And the mystery is only amplified by the fact that Lemmon always was an Oscar-favourite. Equally flabbergasting is the absence of David Mamet's name in the Best Script category.
As with 12 Angry Men, Glengarry Glen Ross is proof that if you handle it right, the screen can be as dramatically powerful as the stage. The camera can capture the details that might be hard to observe in the theatre. With Glengarry Glen Ross, James Foley manages to maintain David Mamet's distinct tone, making this one of the most sizzling and shattering drama films of the decade.