The ease with which Edmond guides us through the mental breakdown of one average human is truly stunning. You would expect that a movie like this would be more boring and melodramatic. This is one of only a couple Stuart Gordon movies that are not Lovecraftian horrors and if you’re looking to continue in the same direction I recommend King of the Ants. It’s a bit more graphic and trippy but it also features a much tighter storytelling. That’s the only thing I didn’t like with Edmond, the story felt a bit disjointed at times. Just a minor complaint, this is still a phenomenal movie that you should check out.
It’s ultimately a movie about the raw deal we got when we were born. You just keep trying to stay alive and live the best life you can and before you know it you’re 47 and feel empty. We follow the unraveling of your Average Joe, so aptly played by William H. Macy (Fargo, Happy, Texas, Shameless), much like in Falling Down or eternal Taxi Driver. The script is not afraid to go all the way to the deepest depths of human and in this case, male mind.
We explore sexuality, racism, bigotry and masculinity and what it means to be alive in the 21st century. The atmosphere is uneasy and engaging as we don’t know what’s going to happen next and every scene can result complete disaster. This is broken by this black humor vibe that’s really subtle and generated more by the absurdity of certain scenes than anything else.
Meet Edmond Burke, a middle-aged businessman stuck in a rut. Lifeless and depressed, he decides to visit a fortune teller after he gets off work. She tells him that he’s in a wrong place setting him on a journey that will change his life forever. Will he end up in the right place is up to you to find out.
At this time I should probably warn you that Edmond features really strong language and is full of racial slurs. Try to not let this bother you and let the fact that the writer is David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, Hoffa, The Edge, Wag the Dog) help guide you to the goal. Let him take you on this journey, it will be well worth it. And not just because of our main character, there are many others that he will meet and interact with. Set against the backdrop of a seedy and crime-ridden part of a town, we also learn more about the world we live in. I hate to be repeating myself but this is another indictment of a tribal system of values. A system that suppresses our true personalities and pushes us into predetermined roles so much so that we forget who we are. Paralyzed, we await for the world to pierce us into a rude awaking.
Unlike other characters that so focused on their individual problems, Edmond focuses on the system and how it works. He’s very careful not to be cheated out of his money and constantly tries to get the “best price” for certain services. He also brings attention to what’s fair and what’s not, ultimately trying to act as someone who restores order and justice albeit in small and menial things. This is all an attempt to further define himself and show other people the values he upholds. The question that remains is is there anything left of Edmond after we peel all of the layers that society imprinted on him. Does he dare to look, to really look in the mirror and find what he’s been looking for?
PS I think I’m in love with Bai Ling
Director: Stuart Gordon
Writer: David Mamet
Cast: William H. Macy, Joe Mantegna, Denise Richards, Vincent Guastaferro, Frances Bay, Rebecca Pidgeon, Bai Ling, Mena Suvari, Jeffrey Combs
Fun Facts: In the commentary, the director and producers tell a story of when filming the scene when Edmond was beating the pimp and screaming various racial slurs, Jamie Foxx was filming a TV pilot nearby and walked over a bit upset at what he was hearing, and talked to the various black actors and crew standing around.