Glengarry Glen Ross – a story for everyone who works for a living

An in-depth examination of what goes on behind the scenes at a real estate office. 

Times are hard at a Chicago real estate office. The salesmen include Shelley Levene (Jack Lemmon), Ricky Roma (Al Pacino), Dave Moss (Ed Harris) and George Aaronow (Alan Arkin) and they are given a strong incentive to do better by competing in a sales contest, where the prizes include a Cadillac El Dorado for first place, a set of steak knives for second and anyone below that, the sack. In a world where there is no room for losers, and only closers will get the good sales leads, there is a lot of pressure to succeed, perhaps too much… A robbery is committed which has a knock on effect for all the characters.

Glengarry Glen Ross is the 1992 film adaptation of David Mamet’s play of the same name. It’s quite an interesting drama that closely studies the machinations of a Chicago real estate office that has fallen on hard times, and is also a film that was no doubt going to be watched once I discovered that Mr Pacino was in it, and I’m very glad I did because he lost it in true Pacino style when a young Kevin Spacey pissed him off at the end of the film, which I personally think should be reason enough for anyone to watch it.

Of course, I’m sure there are those of who may need slightly more persuasion, so I’ll begin. This film is an ensemble of some serious Hollywood heavyweights. Jack Lemmon played Shelley Levene, the ageing salesman who couldn’t quite accept the fact that he would inevitably lose his job. There was real desperation in Lemmon’s performance as an old man still trying to play what is portrayed as a fairly young man’s game here. He played Shelley very well and was enjoyable to watch, despite his dithering character being slightly pathetic.

Pacino’s Ricky Roma was a complete whirlwind of a man. Ricky was the adult equivalent of that kid in school who could do everything extremely well with minimal effort. He was terrific to watch as he really wound up all the others who were seriously struggling to close deals. I wouldn’t normally say this, but I really loved the arrogance of the man, although this I’ll admit was probably more due to the person who played him. Nonetheless, I thought Pacino was brilliant as Ricky and truly deserved the Oscar nomination he received.

If you’re a fan of Al Pacino, you might like The Godfather

Kevin Spacey also joined the ranks as office manager John Williamson. He was a total jobsworth who generally rubbed everybody up the wrong way seemingly just by waking up in a morning. This does however mean that there was always some level of tension in the office – something that I feel was fully reflected right at the end when Spacey and Pacino’s characters locked horns in truly spectacular fashion. It was fab; I loved it!

In a way, Glengarry Glen Ross is a very weird and wonderful film. Beginning to end, not a fat lot actually happens other than the office in which the story is centred is robbed. The funny thing is though that despite the fact not a lot is happening, it’s not hard to sit and watch the film all the way through. I put this down to great dialogue a well-written characters that all fit, but also didn’t fit at the same time.

My one gripe is the film’s conclusion. It ended in a way that I thought was a bit stupid, however I think the reasoning for this would be the fact that it was adapted from a play, as I found the same thing to happen with Killer Joe and also a play I went to see last week. The endings are all a bit illogical, a tad non-sensical, and I just wonder whether this is a key feature of stage productions…

All in all, I would definitely say that Glengarry Glen Ross is worth a watch. It has a great cast, snappy dialogue and wonderful characters, which all make for very enjoyable viewing. As well as all this, at 96 minutes, it’s not a huge test of endurance either. I certainly urge you to give it a go.

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Kira Comerford

Film and TV lover with hopes to one day make my own projects for everyone to enjoy. Until then, I'm giving my thoughts on what I watch for inspiration.

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