'You are not where you belong,' the fortune teller informs him. Edmond (William H Macy) knows this is the truth. He goes home and tells his wife it's over. 'You don't interest me spiritually or sexually,' he says. She shows him the door and he walks through it, out into the night.
His first stop is a bar. 'A man has to get away from himself,' he says - or maybe it's the guy he's talking to. At any rate, on this they agree. The guy (Joe Mantegna) gives him a card for a sex club.
'I don't want to be taken advantage of,' Edmond tells the hostess (Denise Richards). She smiles. It's $50 for what he has in mind; and $100 for two drinks. But he will not be taken advantage of like this. Again, he is shown the door.
Another sex club, another girl (Bai Ling). It's cheaper to sit and watch through glass, but still, Edmond is anxious about his money's worth. 'That's too much,' becomes his mantra. In the end, she gives him his twenty back and he hits another club.
A man has to get away from himself. Playwright and screenwriter David Mamet is famous for his - shall we say 'salty'? - dialogue, which comes peppered with politically incorrect aphorisms concerning race and gender, and which has a cadence all its own, based on repetition and inversion.
Because it's based on a one-act play dating all the way back to 1983, there is fair bit of Mamet talk in Edmond, much of it disturbingly ugly. (A fan of the movie Crash, Mamet is not one to call a garden instrument a shovel, if you get my drift.)
Mamet is also becoming well known for his tricksy storytelling. In films like House Of Games, The Spanish Prisoner, and The Heist (all of which he wrote and directed) nothing can be taken at face value, everything is a con game. Even if I couldn't figure out where it was headed, the biggest surprise here is that Mamet has no tricks up his sleeves. When Edmond plunges into the underworld there are no trapdoors and no more illusions, he steps off a cliff and goes into an existential freefall, simple as that.
What's curious is that he scarcely seems to regret it. He exults in his freedom, briefly, then reverts to the fear and anxiety which are his dominant characteristics, and which may in fact be his comfort zone. (Mamet: 'It's about how American men are terrified of sex.')
Directed by Stuart Gordon (best known for Re-Animator, but a theatre director from the old days too), Edmond makes you work harder than the slick thrillers Mamet usually writes for the screen these days. Despite the nudity it's not as fleshed out as his best plays either. A pivotal scene around the two-thirds mark changes the nature of the beast and, without giving anything away, it just didn't work for me. The relentless sleaziness will also put many people off.
Still, even if it's a minor footnote in an erratic career, this 2005 movie deserves its belated theatrical release here. It's another intriguing addition to William H Macy's long parade of whiners and losers, and the supporting cast is loaded with old Mamet cronies (his wife, Rebecca Pidgeon, plays Edmond's wife, and her one scene is the best in the picture). Infuriating as it seems, there's something to be said for a film that leaves you dangling.
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