by Michael Bowen & r & & r & Edmond & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & n the plot of Edmond, David Mamet's late-'70s play now turned into a film, a middle manager (William H. Macy) decides he's bored with life. So he visits a tarot card reader, leaves his wife abruptly, experiments with lap dancers and hookers, gets mugged, lashes out, seeks redemption -- and ends up enmeshed in what he most feared.
In other words, beneath all the time pressure, the responsibilities and the stress, urban white men are angry. And Mamet's script repeatedly tells us what they're angry about: niggers and faggots and whores.
But is it that simple? When they feel pushed to the limit by their bosses and their wives, middle-class white guys will explode in violent rage at everyone who's different from them. (OK, glad that's settled.) As a middle-aged person of pallor, my tantrums must have nothing to do with balancing the demands of work and family, a mid-life crisis or political ineptitude at the highest levels. Oh, no. If only I could just go out and slap around a few women and minorities, that'd just be so utterly satisfying. Sure.
In a couple of scenes, Macy -- who has to carry this movie -- is unconvincing because he either falls back on familiar mannerisms or simply isn't intense enough (generalized rage in a subway car, false nervousness in first meeting a prison inmate). But there's a creep-you-out moment, right after one violent outburst, when Macy puts on his serial-killer eyes, blames his victim and looks genuinely psychopathic.
In support, Julia Stiles is too self-confident to be convincing as a naive and neurotic wannabe actress. Mamet favorite Joe Mantegna, however, propels an effective scene in a hotel bar as Satan in a suit.
On his commentary track, Mamet's comments are infrequent, flippant, disappointing. The few other bonus features -- a rough making-of diary, three short alternate takes, a second (unengaging) commentary track -- are equally disappointing.
But Edmond is useful as a cautionary tale: Take away a guy's job and a couple of important relationships, make him a mugging victim -- pretty soon, we can all start to feel how our lives' foundations are kind of temporary. Edmond still has visceral impact, just not much in the way of answers. (Rated R)