Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Glengarry Glen Ross
Directed by James Foley
(number 470)

A stellar cast. The leads are Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Ed Harris and Kevin Spacey, all looking a bit baby faced but all performing with the strength and gravitas we know them for. A fantastic scene at the start of the film gives us Alec Baldwin delivering the harsh message, if these men don’t close some deals for the real estate firm then they’re fired.

This movie is all talky talky, but it’s fantastic talk, like watching a fantastic play (which I guess this was based on? I should check), and the actors are all virtuosos. The film builds sympathy for a character, shows horrible things happening to them, and then has them make a shitty decision or do a shitty thing… it’s twisty and dear god, every single one of these salesmen is a bullshitter.

I appreciated that because there wasn’t too much swearing in the script, it had greater impact when swear words were used. The stakes combined with the infrequency of the language meant that the words had a lot more impact and – as in a real life workplace – shows when the characters are getting stressed out.

I loved an early scene where Al Pacino’s Ricky Roma talks about moral relativity and is there an absolute morality? How you should live what you believe, and act dependent on what you believe will happen to you. Of course he means it in a “do what the fuck you want” kind of way, but the essential lesson is pretty good.

The film is about greed and capitalism and its toll on human beings, what people will do when the push is put to them to make money or get out. There are hard moral choices and a lot of stressful scenes of sales not quite working, which are painful for empathetic people like me. “Coffee is for closers only” is a phrase used at the start of the film, which demonstrates how important the making of money is.

Bechdel test: No in fact I don’t think there’s a single speaking role for a woman.

Best line:
“As you all know first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired. Get the picture? You laughing now?”

State of Mind: I felt something off about the pacing, I dunno. Maybe I wanted the climax to be more climaxy, but it was very clever. An interesting counterpoint to ‘The company of men’


2 thoughts on “Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

  1. Alec Baldwin deserved an Oscar for that speech.

    Coincidentally, I watched this film a day or two earlier. I liked it less than you. I agree about the pacing, but what fixated me in my attempt to write a review is that it’s a film about talking, but not about dialogue. Almost every bit of speaking in the film is a rhetorical monologue to which an answer is not desired or expected except inasmuch as they’re looking for agreement with their expressed position.

  2. Pingback: Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) | timneath

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