Saturday, June 14, 2014

HEIST (2001)

Written & Directed By: David Mamet 
Cinematography By: Robert Elswit 
Editor: Barbara Tulliver 

Cast: Gene Hackman, Rebecca Pidgeon, Sam Rockwell, Delroy Lindo, Danny DeVito, Ricky Jay, Patti LuPone

David Mamet takes this story of thieves along many twists and turns, some of which work and some of which don't. Gene Hackman plays the brilliant leader of a gang (Delroy Lindo, Ricky Jay & Rebecca Pigeon as Hackman's youngish wife), which pulls off complex heists for a despicable fence. After stiffing the gang on a jewelry robbery, DeVito forces the gang to go after a Swiss gold shipment and to use his nephew in the crime. No one trusts anyone and every step is shaded with the unexpected. You know what is going to happen. In fact the filmmakers plan on it, yet they want to show you how they devise the plan. Put it together, pull it off then fall apart.

Writer/director David Mamet isn't necessarily interested in the action and spoils I war as much as the audience is. He is more interested in the characters and the before as after of their thoughts and actions. He is in love with the art and construction of the con and the plan.

There isn't some gargantuan score to keep us riveted. The film keeps things small scale and subdued. Not filled with reaction sequences. Not that the older cast can't take it. They are is the classic mold of tough guys, but they are older and established. They don't need the headache of the bigger score. Also don't need as much. They treat the scores as more I do a job, but they get off on the excitement and intrigue more than anything. Beating supposed smarter and tougher men.

While it telegraphs much of what will happen the film still holds a few aces of it's own sleeves.

While one if the off moments of the film could be Rebecca Pidgeon as the Femme-Fatale of the film. She is the directors wife and has a more common look. Not the typical bombshell you would expect. That is what works for her. In real life when you see the person some guys risk it all for. They might not be everyone's cup of tea. That is the power in the relationship. They are so unassuming you don't see them coming. A Jennifer Lopez or Charlize Theron you sense something is up. A Julia stiles you don't and they use their power once they have you. To lead you down a road you not ally would never take. It makes it all the more real. Think about some couples it's always the one least likely. Not a centerfold, but as you get to know them and appreciate other aspects of them it accentuated their looks as overall appeal until you have fallen under a spell by the name of love or lust.

Rebecca Pidgeon usually plays the female lead of his films or at least an important role in them. She is a talented actress though at times feels a little too staged on her performances.

Sam Rockwell is good though his mustache does most of the character work for him it seems as his slimy character is easily transparent. Like a cad from a by gone era.

Gene Hackman is a marvel and fits into the film as he is an acting Everyman. Though strangely doesn't get the best lines. This is one of his last performances and while there is nothing particularly special about his performance. He is as usual strong and believable. He has the grizzled veteran part down pat.

Gene Hackman mentioned in several interviews that he found shooting the film difficult and somewhat uncomfortable because he was so much older than everyone involved. He therefore kept much to himself, and in the end managed to draw on that feeling of being an outsider in the group for his portrayal.

The film for all of it's twist and turns lacks a certain excitement and fells more cut and dry. Owen Wilson was considered for the role of 'Jimmy Silk'.

While certainly entertaining and commanding. You feels satisfied but a bit underwhelmed. It might be the smaller nature of the film compared to it's usual genre companions which are usually bigger productions and more action packed. This one is more for adults.

Grade: B-

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