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Glengarry Glen Ross – Movie Review

Glengarry Glen Ross poster

Last night, I watched “Glengarry Glen Ross” on Netflix Instant. Despite its confusing and nebulous title, the movie is remarkably engaging. The story, while interesting enough, isn’t particularly original. The magnificently talented group of actors are the clear winners here.

This film starsĀ Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, and Alan Arkin as salesman of various caliber, Kevin Spacey as the office manager, and Alec Baldwin as the hatefully delightful motivator brought in to whip the salesman into shape. Special mention must be give to Baldwin’s performance: he was nominated for an Oscar for it, though he only appeared in one scene in the entire movie! If you watch nothing else from this movie, watch his scene, included below for your convenience.

That scene was the point at which the movie grabbed me by the coattails and pulled me in. The rest of the movie is slower and less pulse-poundingly thrilling, but nonetheless the movie delivers a comprehensive and engaging narrative. Taking place over less than 24 hours, the movie’s pacing is strange at times.

The narrative follows the four salesman around as they do their damnedest to win the monthly sales competition which, as Baldwin pointed out to the men, has especially high stakes.

As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody wanna see second prize? Second prize’s a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired. Do you get the picture?Blake (Alec Baldwin), Glengarry Glen Ross

Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey share some dialogue as Levine, Lemmon’s character, tries to convince Williamson (Spacey) to give him the new, better Glengarry leads, so he can keep his job. He tries to wheedle his way into the leads, then he threatens, then he tries to bribe. Fruitless, he strikes out to try and close a sale.

Ed Harris and Alan Arkin complain about the sales landscape, and Pacino is talking his way into a sale with a potential buyer, played by Jonathan Pryce. The night ends with Harris proposing that Arkin breaks into the office and steals the leads, giving them to Harris who will sell them to a friend of his. He promises Arkin $2,500 for his part in the robbery.

The next scene the watcher is greeted with is the robbed office. Someone has stolen the leads, the contracts, and the phones. The last act of the movie plays out somewhat like a whodunit, and is the weakest of the acts.

All in all, Glengarry Glen Ross is quite a good film. While I wouldn’t watch it again, it’s certain to fill up an evening with enjoyment. Substantial moral issues are addressed, and the thoroughly amoral salesman are wonderfully complex characters, all of them. Cinematography is nothing to write home about, but production quality and technical considerations are quite high. The minimal score by James Newton accents the film’s more dramatic moments well. I enjoyed the movie immensely.

Here’s the wrapup:

  • The Good: complex characters played by extremely talented actors
  • The Bad: somewhat unoriginal plot and strange pacing
  • Rating: 7 out of 10

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