I accidentally deleted my first post on this movie, and I’m not sure I can reconstruct it, but I’ll try to get the gyst.
When I sat down to watch this movie, I was expecting something other than what I got. I was expecting a movie about a man who refuses to give up his iron principles even though his life begins to deteriorate around him. Finally, he realizes the error of his ways and opens up (“lets love in” so to speak).
Thus, when the movie ended praising Mike Terry’s resolve to never give in, and uphold the purity of the fight at all costs, I was confused and disappointed. It wasn’t until I watched a post-screening interview with David Mamet, the writer and director, that I understood that I had been watching the movie wrongly.
Mamet describes the story as a “hero myth,” so it makes perfect sense for the protagonist to rely on his own purity to combat the corruption he sees around him. “You know the escape. There’s always an escape. You know the escape.” This is the code Terry recites to his students at the beginning of the movie, so perhaps it can be applied to the rest of his actions.
He is victorious because he remains true to himself, true to the fight. He knows the escape. The knowledge exists inside him. He just needs to find it.
The movie is very well acted and well shot: several key scenes, including the last five minutes or so, exist sans dialogue. Mamet himself remarked that the ideal movie would be one shot with no dialogue at all – just a story told with pictures – and he is on his way to producing this ideal.
(Incidentally, the worst thing anyone can say to praise a movie is to say it was written by an award-winning screenwriter. Instantly, I whet all razors and bare all teeth. I think I would have been more impressed with the script if I hadn’t known from the beginning it was Mamet.)
There you go. At least two-thirds of the original post, and no black eyes.