filmireland.net Nine review by Peter Larkin

Rob Marshall’s Nine (2009) (12s) 1hr 56mins

Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren.

Nine is a film based on Federico Fellini’s autobiographical film 8 1/2 (1963), and on the 1982 Tony award-winning musical, Nine, book by Arthur Kopit, music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, adaptation from the Italian by Mario Fratti. It is the story of Italian film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis). He has recently turned forty and is facing a mid-life-crisis with his willingness to be a professional and creative director and a romantic to his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard) and his mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz). The setting is Rome in 1965.

Judi Dench plays Lilli, Guido’s costume designer. She tells Guido before he goes to a press conference to do what he does best – ‘Lie, lie for Italia’. Dench appears in a flashback sequence on stage when Guido was a boy singing ‘Folies Bergère’. Day-Lewis appears above the stage in a touching scene of nostalgia. Kate Hudson has a cameo as a young and foxy Vogue columnist, Stephanie. She remarks to Guido, that every frame in his films is like a postcard. Grammy-nominated singer Fergie appears in some musical sequences as the irresistible Saraghina. She gives a wonderful performance of ‘Be Italian’ – The best song in the film. Nicole Kidman is the beautiful movie star Claudia, an old flame of Guido’s. Penélope Cruz has a most erotic rendition of ‘A Call from the Vatican’. It will raise a few eyebrows over the decision of a 12A rating. Carla wants to spend more time with Guido, but he is preoccupied with many other things.

Daniel Day-Lewis shines as always. He really gets into the character of Guido with his mannerisms and dialogue. Marion Cotillard adds more emotional core to the film with her renditions of ‘My Husband Makes Movies’ and ‘Take It All’. In a key scene Luisa says to Guido: ‘Thank you for reminding me I’m not special. You don’t even see what you do to me. Even the moments I think are ours, it’s just… you work to get what you want…’

There are several scenes in black and white beautifully photographed by Dion Beebe – flashbacks of Guido’s childhood in a Catholic school in which he first discovers women and also some of the music sequences. Guido like many artists is flawed and trying to find a way to balance his job and love life, this proves very difficult for him. As in any musical the characters express their anxieties though song and it works well.

Rob Marshall is the director and co-choreographer. He made his name with the smash hit Chicago back in 2002. Marshall has a style that is impressive on the musical front, however, it is lacking in the substance of its characters. Michael Tolkin and late Anthony Minghella, to whom this film is dedicated, wrote the screenplay.

The musical sequences are mostly performed on a sound stage, with flashy costumes. The music is enjoyable and John DeLuca and Rob Marshall excellently choreograph the dancing. It is what it is: a musical, and it succeeds on that level. But the all-star cast overwhelms the picture, to the degree that it feels like a guest list. Kidman, Dench and Cotillard all have very little screen time. Cotillard was also underwritten earlier this year in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. Her talent deserves more. If her character had more substance, her relationship with Day-Lewis, would have been more believable. Sophia Loren appears in a cameo to Guido as his dead mother, it will always spark the reaction from the audience that is ‘Look, there’s Sophia Loren’. All and all it keeps you interested and is worth recommending with some reservations.

Naked review by Peter Larkin

Mike Leigh’s Naked (1993) (18s) 2hrs 6mins

Stars: David Thewlis, Lesley Sharp, Katrin Cartlidge, Greg Cruttwell.

Johnny is a very angry young man. He travels from Manchester to London to lay low for a while as he has just sexually assaulted a woman in Manchester. He waits outside the flat of his ex-girlfriend, Louise, played by Lesley Sharp. She lives with Sophie (Katrin Cartildge) and Sandra (Claire Skinner). Johnny spends the afternoon in the flat with Sophie while he waits for Louise.

An unflinching character study of Johnny (the magnificent David Thewlis) spirals from here, as he philosophises with everyone in sight about the world, the bible and the supposed apocalypse which is to take place on 18th August 1999. The London streets after-dark is where Johnny feels at home. Sophie takes a shine to Johnny’s witty and humorous side. Johnny converses with a night security guard Brian (Peter Wight) who gives a thoughtful performance.

Johnny is angry because no one cares that he is angry. He is always violent towards women (they trust him because he exudes charisma and charm). Enter Jeremy (Greg Cruttwell), Sandra’s sadistic landlord who has a lot of time on his hands. He is also violent towards women. Although, Jeremy just does it for fun. It is not a film about transcendence (to be better people and all that); it is about being in world where characters are psychologically and spiritually ‘naked’. They struggle to find happiness and as a result abandon all hope. Women are very much seen as victims in a world of domineering men.

Viewers should be warned that ‘Naked’ has some very strong scenes of sex and violence. This is the only way that some of the characters can express themselves.

David Thewlis gives the best leading male performance of the year. He authentically portrays the dark side of the human condition. Thewlis won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival which also honoured the direction of Mike Leigh, whose much improvised script and dialogue is razor sharp with wit and realism. Thewlis was also voted best actor by the critics of London, New York, the National Society of U.S. Critics and the Evening Standard of British Film. How he did not receive any Oscar attention is one of the great tragedies of film history. His wit and dazzle with the dialogue reminded me of Malcolm McDowell’s Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (1971). Johnny says things like “What if God put us here for his own entertainment?”

Lesley Sharp is well able to hold her own in a supporting role, in which her character is a responsible working woman. Gregg Cruttwell is suitably slimy as the evil Jeremy. Katrin Cartridge has a beautiful presence that displays a notion of loss and hopelessness. Claire Skinner is very believable as a control freak, who needs to get out more (she is one of few women not to be aroused by Johnny’s charm).

Johnny’s line: “No Matter how many books you read there are some things in this world that you never, ever, ever, ever, ever fucking understand”, best describes the atmosphere of this British masterpiece.

Collateral review by Peter Larkin

Michael Mann’s Collateral (2004) (15s) 1hr 57mins

Stars: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith.

According to Michael Mann, Collateral takes place in Los Angeles on the night of the 24th to 25th January 2004 from 6.30pm to 5.40am. It is crime thriller and character study about two men with very different philosophies who meet by chance. In the opening shot we Vincent (Tom Cruise with grey hair would you believe) He is a hit man who is smooth and defiant. He assigned to make several hits in LA that night. Max (Jamie Foxx) is taxi driver, an everyday man struggling to set up his own limousine business. Hard working lawyer Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith) is driven to her office by Max. They have an intimate conversation and she gives her number. A few blocks away, Vincent hails Max’s cab and says that he will give Max $600 to be driven around LA for the night. Max hesitates sternly but agrees on the basis that he needs that extra money. Max has no idea what to expect for a having a grey haired, trigger happy Cruise as a passenger. It is not long until Detective Fanning (Mark Ruffalo) is on their trail as well as FBI operative Pedrosa (Bruce McGill) who is surveillance of Felix (Javier Bardem) and his nightclub. Felix is uptight boss of Vincent. The two have only met through contacts.

Mann’s emphasis on character as well as action fits like a glove. It’s what the film deserves, you have two of the biggest actors in Hollywood, whose talents don’t go to waste. There are superb scenes between Cruise and Foxx speaking very intriguingly well written dialogue. Vincent mentions his feeling of solidarity in LA, even with its seventy million people and the fifth largest economy. The use of soundtrack from Miles Davis, Paul Oakfield and Audioslave suits the film in a tempo like fashion.

Cruise shows us rare character for his career. It is without a doubt one of his very best performances. Jamie Foxx was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor he lost to Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby (2004) Foxx won Best Leading Actor that night for his flawless portrayal of Ray Charles in Ray (2004) Foxx is revelation in his performance. Cruise also shows us like in Magnolia (1999) how he can portray a character that is not in any way a hero, he is man who just lives on the edge. It is not that Vincent isn’t similar to his roles; it’s Cruise’s human element in Vincent that is acclaimed as rare character. Not the mention the fact the he is the bad guy.

This is the first major film to shot with a Viper Film Stream High-Definition Camera. There is a single camera shot of remarkable expertise it shows Vincent on a top floor of building and Max on the ground outside in the background. Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron’s cinematography was overlooked by the Academy. It did, however, win the BAFTA that year.

Michael Mann is now stranger to the night vision of down Los Angeles. Collateral is an achievement because of its important observation of its characters. The film’s best moments are quiet moments of conversations between Vincent and Max.

There are some minor flaws, which I can’t reveal. But as Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune said recently in his review of Public Enemies (2009) “You don’t go to a Michael Mann movie for realism” On that basis, I accept all flaws.

Sex, Lies and Videotape review by Peter Larkin

Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies And Videotape (1989) (18s) 1hr 40mins

Stars: James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher, Laura San Giacomo.

“Sex is overrated” This film is about the concept of sex, not the act. It’s about four characters living in a bleak suburban area in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sexually frigid Ann (Andie MacDowell) and hotshot yuppie lawyer John (Peter Gallagher) are husband and wife. John is having an affair with Ann’s sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo) she is the complete opposite of Ann. Ann has weekly therapy sessions; discussing herself and her marriage. She is unaware of the deception that lies beneath the surface. An old college friend of John’s Graham returns to Baton Rouge after nine years drifting. What has he been up to? Graham is played magnificently by James Spader. Graham arrives at John’s while he’s at work. Ann welcomes Graham to their home. They have a very casual and open conversation about Ann’s marriage to John. When John returns home the three have dinner and they discuss the fact that Graham’s old college girlfriend Elizabeth is also living in Baton Rouge.

The character of Graham is very mysterious. He has another open conversation with Ann in a café and tells her he is impotent. Ann tells Graham she thinks that “sex is overrated” He tells Ann “Never take advice from someone you never had sex with”

It is revealed that Graham videotapes women talking about their sexual experiences. This makes Ann feel very uncomfortable. Cynthia has wanted to meet Graham since John mentioned him. Ann warns her to stay to stay away from Graham.

The premise of this film is a character study of relationships. It delves deep into the characters’ thoughts. I felt very uneasy watching how realistic the people were portrayed. Baton Rouge feels empty just like the characters. They are all in their early thirties and their sex lives are out of proportion. The film tracks the behaviour of each individual in particular Ann and Graham. It’s easy to symbolically link the characters with the title sex (Cynthia) lies (John) and Videotape (Graham) these characters are ordinary and strange in different ways. The erotic scenes involve John and Cynthia together. As I said it’s about the concept not the act. The audience is more fascinated by the mysterious Graham and frigid Ann whose conversations are the best scenes in the film. Spader’s performance is a tour-de-force in this intriguing film.

Steven Soderbergh wrote the script in less than two weeks and made it at a remarkable budget of $1.2 million. It was shot in only thirty days on location in Baton Rouge. Sex, Lies And Videotape was a huge hit at when it premiered at Sundance and won the audience award. It went to even wider praise at Cannes where it was rewarded Palme d’Or (best picture) FIPRESCI (critics’ prize) and best actor (James Spader) Sex, Lies And Videotape is important in film history for making independent film a widely known genre.

It is a film in which sex is lied about to cover up the private obsessions of the individuals. The characters are given the chance to breathe as real people, not as conventional characters treading down paths of formulaic outcomes. There is a lot left unsaid by characters which is part of its’ original, daring, razor sharp script (Oscar nominated) I felt it is very unpredictable and that it what makes it mesmerising. This film is alive and free to surprise us. It is filmmaking of the psyche and one of the best films of 1989.

Ordinary People review by Peter Larkin

Robert Redford’s Ordinary People (1980): An appreciation of a classic film

(Contains major spoilers)

Ordinary People is about the aftermath of a family tragedy, concerning three characters, a father Calvin (Donald Sutherland) a mother Beth (Mary Tyler Moore) and their eighteen year old son Conrad (Timothy Hutton) In the film’s opening it is the fall of 1980 in the town of Lake Forest, Illinois. The beautiful Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel is heard on the soundtrack, as the camera shows us what an extraordinary place Lake Forest is to live in.

Conrad is having trouble sleeping, he has just returned from a psychiatric hospital after being inside for four months following a suicide attempt over the guilt of the death of his older brother Buck in a boating accident.

Conrad goes to see a psychiatrist Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch) with whom Conrad discusses life back at home and school. Conrad is finding it very difficult to resume his life in the outside world after what happened. Calvin is tax attorney and a very loving father. He wants to do the very best for Beth and Conrad, but at times he feels at a distance between both of them. Beth is a housewife, who everyone likes; she is very distant with Conrad ever since Buck’s death. Buck was always her favourite and she blames Conrad for his death.

Ordinary People is based on a 1976 novel by Judith Guest, for which Robert Redford made his directorial debut. It won four Oscars back in 1980, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for nineteen-year-old Timothy Hutton.

Since Conrad starts back at school he becomes very distant with his friends, he finds it too painful to be around because of his brother, who was part of their group. Calvin and Beth are having troubles of their own communicating with each other. Calvin wants to help Conrad through what has happened and try to move on. This is too much for Beth to bear.

The character of Calvin has a tragic journey to take, his realisation of the current events make him question what he has in his life. This film knows what it’s about and it tells us by focusing deeply into its characters. Each of the characters have flashbacks to when Buck was around as a child, a teenager and his final moments of life.

Dr. Berger is key to the story as he makes Conrad realise some painful truths. There is a wonderful scene when Calvin visits Dr. Berger to discuss Conrad, Calvin suddenly realises that he has come to Dr. Berger to talk about himself and how he is at a crossroads between his wife and his son.

Donald Sutherland’s performance is magnificent as the grief stricken father trying to put things right, he plays it so effortlessly that you feel that he embodies this character. Mary Tyler Moore and Judd Hirsch were Oscar nominated for their performances. Moore breaks free of being typecast in a performance of truth and bitterness. Hirsch’s character is very laid back and his guidance in the sessions with Conrad and Calvin show that he is a very caring person.

The final two scenes each between two sets of characters are the film’s best. The first is between Calvin and Beth, as Calvin faces up to his reality as a husband. He tells his wife “Maybe you can’t love anybody. It was so much Buck. When Buck died, it was like you buried all your love with him, and I don’t understand that, I just don’t know, I don’t… maybe it wasn’t even Buck; maybe it was just you. Maybe, finally, it was the best of you that you buried. But whatever it was… and at that moment Calvin gives a short, silent sigh; a moment of great beauty and subtlety that only an actor can give without being asked to.

Beth faces up to reality and leaves for good. The last scene between Conrad and Calvin has Conrad blaming himself for Beth leaving. Calvin for first and only time in the film shouts in anger “Don’t do that, don’t do that to yourself, it’s nobody’s fault, things happen in this world people don’t always have the answers for them, you know” This is very true there no answer to Beth’s inability to love. Conrad then says that he always looked up to Calvin. Calvin replies “Don’t admire too much they’ll disappoint sometimes” Less is more and that line proves it. All of the performances and dialogue are filled with deepness and truth. How many mainstream Hollywood films today are fully emphasised on the study of its characters? Not many, is that’s why this film is remembered thirty years after its release.

Donald Sutherland’s performance was shamefully overlooked at the Oscars. Richard Schickel, film critic for Time Magazine and author of many books on film once said “There are performances so good, so lacking in showy effect, that they are almost certain to be overlooked at awards season. But that’s OK. Honesty tends to receive its own, more lasting rewards in our remembering hearts” What a beautiful piece of prose that is, so deep and true, it isn’t all about the awards.

The late great Gene Siskel (1946-1999) film critic of The Chicago Tribune once told Roger Ebert film critic of The Chicago Sun-Times that seeing a truly great movie him made so happy that a week later he’d tell Ebert his spirits were still high, I have feeling that Ordinary People was one of those many films.

Francois Truffaut once told Gene Siskel that the most beautiful sight in a movie theatre is to walk down to the front, turn around and look at the life from the screen reflected on the upturned faces of the members of the audience. Ordinary People is a powerful experience. The tagline on the poster reads: Some films you watch, others you feel. It’s my Dad’s favourite film; it is a film, that means a great deal to him because of the honesty of how it looks at people. Today it is passed on to me and there you have it.

Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? review by Peter Larkin

Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966) 2hrs 11mins

Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis.

“You are cordially invited to George and Martha’s for an evening of fun and games” That was the tagline back in 1966. Mike Nichols’ wonderful adaptation of Edward Albee’s 1962 play stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor as George and Martha; a foul mouthed and damaged couple living on a college campus in New England. George is a history professor; his wife is the daughter of the college president. They have just returned from a Saturday night get together on the campus. They are expecting the arrival of a young couple for a few late night drinks. The young couple are Biology tutor Nick (George Segal) and housewife Honey (Sandy Dennis)

Throughout the evening George and Martha square off to one other to the surprise of their guests. The brilliant camera work by Haskell Wexler pans, tilts and zooms to perfect effect through the living room where most of the film takes place. It is indeed the only location of the play. In the film, there is use of space; they are briefly upstairs, out the back garden and out at a dance hall. Edward Albee’s dialogue from the play is left almost virtually intact, in the script adaptation by Ernest Lehman, who wrote North By Northwest (1959) West Side Story (1961) and The Sound Of Music (1965)

Elizabeth Taylor’s performance as the “wilful minded ligour ritten” Martha is a powerhouse, although Albee’s original choice of Bette Davis would have ideal due to the age of the character, Taylor gets away with it and good for her. George Segal’s Nick is a master of timing his reactions to the on going uproar. Sandy Dennis’ Honey is quick with her incessant gawkiness that reveals a truthful form of anxiety, which later appears to be in all of the characters’ psyches.

Richard Burton gives the most outstanding performance of all. The pain and anger he goes through is heartbreaking. How he didn’t win the Oscar is beyond me. The performance will be remembered forever in this critic’s opinion as Richard Burton’s very best.

This film is the only film to be nominated in every category possible with thirteen Oscar nominations and five wins for Elizabeth Taylor, Sandy Dennis, the magnificent cinematography (black and white) costume design (black and white) and production design (black and white)

The greatest shot in the film is a distanced wide shot of the lonely George as he steadily smokes a cigarette while on a swing in the back garden with his back to us. Don’t get me started on the sublime bark of that tree, simply stunning.

Mike Nichols’ directorial debut is his very best work closely followed by the sensational hit The Graduate (1967) The wonderful character study Carnal Knowledge (1971) and the Emmy Award winning Wit (2001) and Angels In America (2003) Nichols’ direction uses the framing and camera moves to perfection by using over head shots and unexpected close ups. It is a great film because it shows you unflinchingly, what real love is about.

The finale, which I won’t reveal, conveys the motion of absolute truth to the characters and there is nothing higher to stride for. It is about the psychology of two exhausted souls George and Martha, who in the most messed up way possible deserve each other because they know each other too well. It is so evident in the magnificent performances. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? is unforgettable. A cinematic masterpiece of human pain and relationships, no praise for it is ever too high. When George solemnly says the line “Sunday tomorrow; all day” you’ll know what I’m talking about. “George and Martha: sad, sad, sad.”

In The Bedroom review by Peter Larkin

Todd Field’s In The Bedroom (2001) 2hrs 6mins

Stars: Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek, Nick Stahl, Marisa Tomei, William Mapother.

(Contains major spoilers)

Never before or since in my film viewing experience, have I been more challenged as human being then with ‘In The Bedroom’ An Outstanding film, my choice as best film of the 2000s. As warned above this review contains all the spoilers. It’s strictly for those who have seen the film. Beginning with the stunning and beautifully haunting music of Thomas Newman, the superb cinematography shows us the mainland of Maine. The film stars the brilliant Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek as husband and wife Matt and Ruth Fowler. Matt is the local doctor and Ruth is the choir mistress at the local high school. They have a twenty-something year old son Frank (Nick Stahl) who is in a relationship with a single mum of two boys; Natalie (Marisa Tomei) When Natalie’s ex-husband Richard (William Mapother) arrives on the scene, all hell breaks lose.

In The Bedroom was based on a short story by Andre Dubus. It was adapted for the screen by Robert Festinger and Todd Field, the director of the film. On the surface it is about the relationship between Frank and Natalie and then it develops into something completely unexpected. It develops into a story of grief and loneliness. Richard eventually kills Frank in the quarter of an hour mark. The film changes from being about romance to grief in the blink of an eye. It’s ironic the title of the short story published in 1979 was called Killings, a potential spoiler for everyone.

In The Bedroom was nominated for five Academy Awards, Best Picture, Best Actor for Wilkinson, Best Actress for Spacek, Best Supporting Actress for Tomei and Best Adapted Screenplay for Robert Festinger and Todd Field. It sadly, won none of them. It has to be said that there are clearly several omissions for Field’s direction Newman’s music and the cinematography and editing.

Todd Field’s pacing is so orchestrated, subtle and poetic. The landscape of Maine in its own way resonates a comparison to its lonely characters. Matt and Ruth mourn the loss of their son, they soon find out that Richard to being let out on of prison on bail and that he’ll probably face a manslaughter charge. After that news, Natalie approaches Ruth, who slaps her hard and then acts as if nothing ever happened. Spacek’s portrayal of an empty soul is enthralling and Tomei’s performance is one of her very best. You really notice the chemistry between Stahl and Tomei, not to mention the astonishing duo of Wilkinson and Spacek.

There are two close ups of Matt that completely define his character. The first is after hearing the news of Richard’s mostly likely sentence; there is a close up of his face and we see all of the sadness and loneliness that now governs his life after the life of the loss of his son. The second is when Matt approaches Richard. I swear to you I just thought that he wanted a few words with Richard. But, then you see Matt raise a gun. In at that moment you really see what all of this has really done to Matt’s soul. It is all displayed beautifully in Wilkinson’s eyes, what marvellous actor he is and why didn’t he receive the Academy Award?

When Matt is driven to kill Richard. He returns home to bed. Ruth says “Is it done?” Matt looks up at the ceiling. Do we as the audience feel that justice is done? No, that is the whole point nothing ever bring Frank back.

As I said at the beginning of the review that this film challenged more as a human being that any other. It did so, because when I saw it a few months ago I was and still am the same age as Frank and my parents are the same age as Matt and Ruth. For two straight weeks after watching this film, I could not get it out of my head. I tried so hard to understand these characters and feel with their pain and I finally realised that I couldn’t. Because I am me and they are them. And that is the way it always will be.

In The Company of Men review by Peter Larkin

Neil LaBute’s In The Company Of Men (1997) 1hr 37mins

Stars: Aaron Eckhart, Stacy Edwards, Matt Malloy.

American playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute made his debut that starting with the line “Let’s hurt somebody” and he developed it from there. In The Company Of Men is about corporate culture and human cruelty in a very observed and realistic way. Two corporate businessmen Chad (Aaron Eckhart) and Howard (Matt Malloy) are out town for six weeks for a work placement in Fort Wayne, Indiana. While having drinks in an airport bar awaiting their flight Chad, who is tired of how women of treated him, hatches a plan to seduce and then dump and a vulnerable young woman. Howard’s response to this is “Yeah… It’s just way out there” Chad is a master opportunity hater, and most of us in the audience are more like Howard an everyday man trying to get by. Men like Chad and Howard exist in your everyday lives, take a look around for yourself.

The vulnerable young woman at their office turned out to be deaf. Her name is Christine, she is played brilliantly by Stacy Edwards, you would swear was deaf, she is that convincing. Everything gesture and sentence she makes rings true. Chad asks Christine out and urges Howard to do after two weeks. When Howard does so, he asks the wrong woman who accepts. Chad calls Howard off to tell him. “You come on” “but I asked her…” to which Chad sternly replies “Fuck her let’s get a sandwich” Howard eventually begins dating Christine. The offices in “In The Company Of Men’ are murky, lifeless and shaped with people who likely to doing the same dead end job for most of their careers.

I won’t reveal any more. The rest of the plot should be experienced. The three main characters each give the best performances of their careers. Eckhart’s Chad is suitably slimy; he portrays it with perfect steely venom. Malloy’s Howard is heartbreaking. Watch out for the scene later on in a car when he says, “He is my friend” the shame, subtlety and beauty of the way that line is said is so truthful.

Neil LaBute’s realistic dialogue and storyline would continue to shape his magnificent plays, which continued to explore human cruelty and betrayal. In The Company Of Men was based on 1993 play by LaBute, first performed at his alma matter Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. It received an award from the Association of Mormon Letters. LaBute shot the film in eleven days on an astonishing budget of $25,000. $10,000 each from the executive producers who got the money from a car accident and $5,000 for the co-star Matt Malloy. By post-production they raised $100,000 with Sony Pictures. In The Company Of Men is a masterpiece of character study and should not be ignored.