Directed by Stuart Gordon
One of the most impressive things about Edmond is that Stuart Gordon, the man who gave us Re-Animator, was able to attract so much A-list talent. Gone (or at least temporarily banished), are Gordon’s days of overacted splatter comedies; the performances in Edmond are intriguing across the board. That said, the pseudo-philosophy and racially motivated themes of the picture seem a little overwrought, and perhaps less important than they wish themselves to be. Dealing with issues of human disconnectedness and racism, Edmond could have been the next Crash if it weren’t laced with such a desire to offend. Don’t get me wrong, the last thing I want is for the guy that made Castle Freak to start making "important" movies, but it could have been one if it had wanted to be.
Edmond, not surprisingly tells the story of a guy named Edmond who, after yet another crappy day in middle manager-land stops in at a fortune teller, who tells him "You are not where you belong." The purpose of the line of, course, is that nearly everyone feels like that from time to time. So off we go following, and fully empathizing with William H. Macy, our twenty-first century Everyman.
The first order of the day is to shitcan his wife, sparing her not a whit of the full measure of his disdain. Next up is a drink at the local lonely-hearts–businessman-bar, replete with Joe Montegna as last inning coach. Joe’s advice is that pussy, power, money, adventure, self-destruction and religion are the only ways to get away from oneself, and then tells Edmond he ought to get laid. Ya gotta love the world of David Mamet, where the meaning of life is couched in manly pursuits of happiness.
Despite the retro Taxi Driver era red light district being replete with B-girls, strippers, and escorts that look like Denise Richards, Bai Ling, and Mena Suvari, Edmond can’t help with obsessing about getting ripped off. As he says to his first potential conquest "I’m putting myself at your mercy. I just don’t want to get taken advantage of." This notion of not getting fleeced keeps cropping up throughout the film, a sort of shorthand for the puerile desire for everyone to just get along and stop trying to use one another. Of course, anyone over the age of ten knows that this just ain’t the way the world works, but Edmond despairs that "I think there’s just too many people in the world. That’s why we kill each other." Tragedy of the commons is an old idea, but I don’t think it normally involves murder.
And murder Edmond does, though it’s not like you won’t see it coming. He finally scores and afterwards, pubescently feeling like he’s made a connection with the girl (Julia Stiles), Edmond begins to lecture his newfound love on all he’s learned in the last few hours. First is that "If you’re a man you should be feared", and that "Madness is self indulgence." Mamet may be right, but statements like this tend to glorify the hulking cocksure buck that Edmond wishes he was, and perhaps thinks he’s becoming. When he finally does kill his conquest, our sympathy for Edmond doesn’t wane as it should, because the girl only plays the part of a tourist in the land of self discovery; a necessary victim in Edmond’s transformative journey.
Edmond, loser that he is, does eventually get busted. The remainder of the film is a prison drama, with all the weepy spousal goodbyes, anal rape, and tattoos that the genre requires. It’s not until literally the last frame of the film that we finally get to see the extent of the transformation Edmond has undergone. The laughable, but also oddly sweet final image neatly wraps up and discards all of Edmond’s hatred and shows how, love, even sodomite prison love, conquers all.
3 1/2 out of 5
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