Monday, February 19, 2007

Edmond (2005)

Edmond is a bleak, existential journey one man takes when he realizes his life is meaningless…

Edmond Burke decides he’s had enough of his boring, beige-colored, corporate life. Taking the advice of a psychic, he leaves his wife and his old life behind to discover where he is really supposed to be. Unfortunately, his journey takes him into the seedy underground of the city, where in one night he visits multiple bars, strip clubs, peep shows and massage parlors. Through his hellish journey, he finds the hookers too expensive, the pimps violent and many a conman roaming the dirty streets. It seems everyone wants to take advantage of him, from the hookers to a man running a card game con on the street. He is beaten and robbed, but keeps on roaming the streets searching for answers. In such a lonely, dog-eat-dog world, Edmond finally snaps and ends up killing a woman and threatening others. He is sent to prison, where he has a lifetime to mull over the philosophy of life that sent him to the brink of madness.

William H. Macy stars as Edmond, playing the same lost, lonely, sad and confused man he plays in almost every other film. Sure, he gives a powerful performance, but it is one we have already seen in countless films. His Edmond is a pathetic sack of a man who does whatever people tell him to do including following the psychic’s advice that he’s not in the right place in life and a man at a bar (played by Joe Mantegna) who tells him to go get laid. He finally snaps when he realizes that the world outside of his white-bread upbringing is a mean place where people just use and abuse each other.

The cast features many other familiar faces, including Julia Stiles as a waitress he ends up sleeping with, Mena Suvari, Bai Ling and Denise Richards all as hookers, Debi Mazar as a madam of a massage parlor, Jeffrey Combs as a hotel desk clerk and George Wendt as a pawn shop owner. Unfortunately, these appearances are little more than cameos as Edmond wanders through the dangerous underbelly of the city and we don’t get to see much these actors. This film is solely focused on Macy’s character.

That being said, this is much more a character-driven film than a horror movie. It was penned from a play by David Mamet and directed by Stuart Gordon of Re-Animator fame. Don’t expect any over-the-top, gory, humorous horror here, though. Edmond’s level of violence doesn’t exceed a couple of beatings and one killing, which happens off-screen. The horror here is much more psychological as Edmond’s sanity continues to slip. Gordon, though, does a masterful job of directing the Mamet-penned emotional script and cinematographer Denis Maloney captures all the seedy trashiness of Downtown.

This film won’t please a lot of horror fans because of its slow pace and lack of bloodshed. You will need some patience to view the film, but the unsettling and uneven pace mirrors Edmond’s own psychological state of mind and is there for a reason. Fans of David Mamet films will find this more their style, but Edmond should also hold some interest to those who enjoy psychological dramas about a person’s changing reality. Edmond is an intriguing piece of cinema that forces you to wake up and examine your own life to see if you are really living it.

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