May 4, 2008


Mamet Fights for the Right To ... Fight (NICOLAS RAPOLD, May 2, 2008, NY Sun)

Perhaps the greatest distinction of David Mamet's fine new film, "Redbelt," is that it lasts not a second longer than necessary: The curtain falls precisely when all that really matters has been said and done. In many ways his most straightforward film, "Redbelt" is a ruthlessly executed tale of cloistered warrior honor exposed to the open air of a fallen world. In other words, it's an old samurai story, but Mr. Mamet's clockwork mechanism is downright cathartic and his leading man, Chiwetel Ejiofor, is charismatic enough to watch indefinitely. [...]

What grounds this endeavor is the often mournful serenity of Mr. Ejiofor, who, like the fighter he portrays, intuits when is the right time to hold back. Most genre pictures extolling dignity and honor bank on the lead simply and nobly embodying those qualities, but this actor makes you believe the less credible bits of a Mamet character. (He also looks periodically beatified under cinematographer Robert Elswit's expert eye.) Mike's authority comes from restraint, which Mr. Ejiofor portrays as both a strength and a weakness as Mike wades through Mr. Mamet's usual school of sharks. [...]

Some of Mr. Mamet's films have been read as satirical allegories for filmmaking, but since he titled his compilation of Hollywood-related writings "Bambi vs. Godzilla," the idea seems a bit redundant. Rather, the experiences of the magnanimous hero in "Redbelt" could suggest that big spectacle can be an opportunity to demonstrate honor rather than an automatic debasement. An uplifting David Mamet movie? It's just one more surprise from a frequently mocked writer who's still beating Hollywood at some of its own games. see if the reviews of Mr. Mamet's work as published by partisan sources change at all with his recent public political pronouncement.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 4, 2008 9:39 AM
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