Movie Review
Edmond
2005
Director: Stuart Gordon
Cast: William H. Macy, Rebecca Pidgeon, Julia Stiles
B


embarking upon a journey of self-discovery, Edmond learns to speak his mind, to express himself, and to appreciate the beauty of that bag blowing in the wind. Leaving his tiresome wife because she cannot fulfill him, Edmond heroically convinces a girl thirty years his junior to sleep with him. He realizes, to borrow a phrase, that no law can be sacred to him but that of his own nature. Thankfully, for those of us who aren’t ready for another rendition of The Hours, Edmond is a vicious bigot. Following his inner truth involves murdering the black men who mug him and the gay men who give him sass.

Based on a David Mamet play, Edmond features a fine performance by William H. Macy in the titular role. Ultimately, these two names are all that matter as, although not exactly stagy, the cinematic techniques are very conventional. The mystical mise-en-scene alerts us that fate is about to intervene, the lighting signifies the seediness of New York City, and so forth. Despite merely acceptable visuals, the screenplay crackles.


Edmond values collision over continuity, like any good play with characters composed of pure ideology. Therefore, all of the players are largely incoherent in terms of psychological realism. Rather, each person exists solely as a constantly shifting challenge to Edmond, developing as the antitheses to his ongoing quest for truth. Edmond first seeks sexual liberation. As he wanders the city, armies of women beg to do him sexual favors. Far from indulging the nonconformist, society soon demands recompense. Ecstasy awaits, but only if you can make change for a twenty. Two dollars to get into the peep show and ten for a dance: Edmond reluctantly forks over the cash, but is horrified to discover that the separating pane of glass won’t retract. Candidly telling a hooker that he “doesn’t want to be taken advantage of,” Edmond firmly trusts in the common decency of the back alleys.

He also nobly bears the white man’s burden. When accosted by a black man, Edmond, hurling racial epithets, virtuously crushes the skull of his would-be oppressor. He matter-of-factly bemoans his own superiority, advising his own race to adopt the carefree attitudes of their darker brothers. The man’s belief system, however hilarious, is hardly the point. The laws of his own imaginary society are so outdated that Edmond gallantly transcends all morality. Leaving only a dog-like desire to live passionately, all conception of good and evil recedes before this modern day Don Quixote. Begrudgingly extending admiration to the church and the jail, merely because they effectively cage the deepest soul of humanity, Edmond is a welcome antidote to years of Disney movies.

Edmond is currently playing in limited release.


By: Learned Foote
Published on: 2006-07-31
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