Edmond (2005) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's notes


Edmond is David Mamet's 2005 screen adaptation of his own stage play about a prim and naive man who decides to take a walk on the wild side. Edmond Burke (William H. Macy) visits a tarot reader. Based on her advice, he goes home, informs his wife that she doesn't appeal to him physically or spiritually, and heads to 42nd Street for some serious cruisin'. Well, that was how it went down in the play. In the movie version, L.A. substituted for New York, partially because of budget considerations, but mainly because the play was written in 1982, and 42nd Street is no longer sleazy! Joe Mantagna, playing the sure-to-be-iconic role of "man in bar," convinces Edmond that he needs to get laid. "Man(tagna) in bar" sends Edmond to a gentleman's club, where he promptly refuses to spend the fifty bucks required to meet the two drink minimum, and is ejected. His next stop is a peep show, where he fails to reach an agreement with Bai Ling. His night goes downhill from there, each step requiring endless self-examination.

If I am not mistaken, the film medium was originally called "moving pictures" because the technology allowed for some motion. This film seems to be the exception. While it explores some interesting themes, in the final analysis it feels too much like a stage play, in that 100% of the intrinsic value resides in the dialogue. Listening to over an hour of stage dialogue from sad sack William H. Macy is pure torture. Moreover, the theme of the piece seems to be that we have no choice in how our lives will work out, but neither the filmmakers or the author make that case compellingly, given that Edmond's night consists of a steady succession of his own mistakes and bad choices, thus showing him to have forged his own destiny.

By the way, I may be wrong, but I believe that Edmond must be the only New Yorker from the 1980s who is surprised to find that clean prostitutes are expensive, that it is dangerous to stand alone in dark alleys with criminals, and that the three-card monty street games are dishonest.

The work has some positives. The photography is wonderful, and the cast is full of attractive women ...

... but I was very glad when the film ended. 





Julia Stiles shows her breast from the side-rear.

Bai Ling shows her breasts, as well as her buns in a t-back.

Scoop's notes

The filmmakers said that “we gave the script to all the studios around town and told them that we had William H. Macy starring and David Mamet writing and Stuart Gordon directing and they all said, ‘Great! We’ll read it this weekend,’ and never heard from them again.” Maybe, just maybe, there was a reason why they never heard from them again.

--- TonyMedley.com ---


Edmond, David Mamet's 1982 play, had a highly-acclaimed London revival in 2002 with Kenneth Branagh in the title role. I suppose that the critical accolades and moderate financial success of that production gave Mamet and his investors the impression that his play could still be relevant as a film.


The styles of acting and playwriting change dramatically over time. Watch a John Barrymore film some time and you'll see what I mean. The man was so hammy that his performances would embarrass Bill Shatner, but in his time many people considered him a great actor, and he was never lacking for employment until his drinking undid him. That type of stentorian acting was in fashion once, in a world before Brando and DeNiro. Read the great American stage plays of the 20s and 30s, and you'll have a reaction something like, "People used to like this kind of stuff?" Yes, astoundingly, people used to think that it was an uplifting experience to sit in a theater and listen to professional orators (for that's what actors really were then) deliver sculpted and polished dialogue which bore no resemblance to everyday human speech. That sort of thing may even come back into fashion one day.

But this is not that day.

At least not in cinema. The hyper-literate and rhetorical style of writing and performing still exists in the world of legitimate theater, but it has totally died out from film. The intimacy of the movie camera practically places a giant "false" tag on actors when they get caught delivering lines inappropriate for their character in a manner too broad and/or rhetorical for the situation. That's what happens to Edmond as a movie. Perhaps the great Branagh can get away with declaiming these speeches on the London stage, because he's one of those actors who can make anything seem natural and conversational, but that task was far beyond the capabilities of the performers in the filmed version of Edmond. As you watch it, you will never lose the sense that you are sitting in an audience watching a play. There is never a single moment when I found myself losing my self-awareness and getting wrapped up in the characters or the story. It was like watching one of those stagy episodes of Playhouse 90 from the 1950s, or watching a play by Inge or Tennessee Williams. One character delivers some flowery or philosophical lines while the other character or characters in the scene wait patiently for their turn to speak. We are always aware that they are actors waiting for their turn to deliver lines, and get no sense that they are real people reacting in the moment.

Does the film medium demand that the audience lose its sense of otherness from the production? I suppose opinions vary, but my opinion is "Yes, it absolutely does," because we have developed an internal clock that tells us when we have invested too much of our time and energy in a work of art or entertainment. That clock can be ignored when we are held rapt by a mystery or a spectacle or a comedy, but when a show leaves us apart from it, with the awareness that we are watching a performance, then that clock's ticking seems as loud as fireworks in our heads. We switch from being an audience at a movie to an audience a poetry-reading. This uses a very different part of our brain. Virtually every human being can sit through his favorite movie without being aware of the passage of time or even his own existence, but only one in a thousand, perhaps one in ten thousand, can make it willingly through the same period of time devoted to a speech about philosophy or a 76 minute poetry-reading, even if it is the best one he has ever imagined.

And so Edmond, a mere stripling of a one-act play running a tidy 76 minutes long, seems longer than Lawrence of Afuckingrabia. It stands as a reminder of how artificial and stilted the theater used to be, and it is only for the one in ten thousand.

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-.

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