Twistin’ the Plot Away

10 Aug 2013: Heist (DVD, 2001, David Mamet)

The effectiveness of a twist ending is obviously in inverse proportionality to its foreseeability. Mamet does pretty well with these in House of Games and even Homicide, but here he gives everything away very early on. After one convincing table-turn, memory of those other films comes flooding in, and then the entire rest of the movie is waiting for the next twist, and then the next one, and then the next one, because everyone is lying and onto everyone else and pretending that they’re not. The “Mamet dialogue” as advertised on the back of the jewel case becomes in this film exactly that, a commodity declining in value with the apparent lack of additional labor put into it; repetitions of short sentences, little games with words that are sometimes a bit clever but feel tepid in comparison with Glengarry Glen Ross and others, but without much rhythm or meat, delivered by the actors capably (Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Delroy Lindo, Ricky Jay all show breadth of emotion in emphatic performances, the others not so much) but rarely engagingly due to their sentence strictures. Visually not very interesting: telephoto close-ups and two-shots, a fair amount of Dutch angles. Not awful or unpleasant, but a mechanical exercise, a scale practice rather than a sonata or even an etude.

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