A word on Spike Lee’s latest…
Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends – Monty
25th Hour, the latest joint from director Spike Lee, is easily one of the most rounded movies I’ve ever seen. Starring Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Anna Paquin and Brian Cox, 25th Hour is the story of the last day of a man’s ‘life’.
Monty Brogan (Norton), an Irish American drug dealer, is going to prison tomorrow. He’s understandably depressed. The movie traces his movements around Manhattan as he deals with his present and his future. Did his girlfriend Naturelle rat on him to the cops? Are his best friends Jacob and Frank (Hoffman, Pepper) really his friends? Monty isn’t a bad guy. Yes, he sold drugs… but he’s a nice guy. People like him. The movie opens with him saving a dog from death – the dog becomes his, and he names it Doyle. The two are inseperable. Damn it, I can’t review this movie properly, there’s too much going on it.
Lee manages to address the spectacle of post-September 11th New York with passion, yet without indulging chest-beating sentamentalism. Frank, a hard-nosed stockbroker, has an apartment by ground zero. Monty’s father James is an ex-fireman, who runs a fireman’s pub (Brogans). But there’s other issues here. Much of the weight on Monty’s shoulders concerns his survival, physical, mental and emotional, once goes to the ‘hoosegaw’. He doesn’t see himself surviving 7 years in the clink, but sees himself being raped and murdered, a ‘pretty white boy’ with no experience of real hardship.
The acting is fantastic – the weird relationship between Hoffman, an English teacher, and Paquin, is electric. Norton, of course, is wonderful, as Monty, the brooding junk dealer who’s fallen in with a bad crowd. He’s smart, but not that smart. Now that he’s going to ‘hell’, he’s questioning everything.
There isn’t a scrap of poor acting in the entire movie… it’s a fine solid drama, that has things to say, but never becomes didactic.
Added 28th May 2003:
I can’t say too much cos of the possibility of creating a SPOILER. But it just struck me last night, the similarity between the fantasy sequences in 25th Hour, and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil