Being a must-see for any serious film buff, Glengarry Glen Ross is the superbly acted depiction of desperation, deceit, and bleakness in an inner-city sales office. First and foremost, the film comprises one of the best casts ever assembled (Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, etc.) for mainstream cinema. Despite being a predominantly male-oriented cast, this film has everything – tremendous dialogue (one-liners that stand the test of time), actors at the top of their game, the ferocious presence and talent of Al Pacino, the formidable fall-guy antics of Jack Lemmon, and a sensitivity worthy of any drama (with comedic undertones throughout).
What this film has is the simplest premise imaginable: Alec Baldwin (a high-end executive from head office) arrives at an underachieving real estate sales office with an ultimatum for its staff: start performing or “hit the bricks.” Being the only seemingly successful salesman in the office, Al Pacino hasn’t attended Baldwin’s drill-sergeant routine; however, it becomes immediately clear that the remaining employees’ livelihoods are at stake – Jack Lemmon is a has-been in the sales world, and Ed Harris and Alan Arkin are barely pulling their weight. If nothing else, it is imperative that you witness Alec Baldwin’s truly memorable motivational speech. This is a different Alec Baldwin that people are tuning in for week in week out (30 Rock).
What follows is a beautifully played-out 2 hours of sheer filmic brilliance. Jack Lemmon demonstrates the usual mainstay of the Jack Lemmon brand: being a stammering nincompoop, for whom we root. Kevin Spacey is indescribable, as per usual. His deadpan, straight-laced approach to acting is flawless. For fans of his performance in Swimming With Sharks, this should be your next watch. As with SWS, you love to hate him!
For any person having ever worked in a sales job, you will know what the ‘good leads’ are and you will certainly know what the ‘bad leads’ are. What this film truthfully shows is three extremely despairing salespersons craving the ‘good leads’, willing to do anything to get them.
On the flip-side, if you haven’t worked in a sales office – pray you never do – you will most definitely never want to. There is no glitz; there is no glamour; it isn’t a pretty environment. Here we see hopelessness, despondency and anguish played out to a noir-style, glum backdrop. If you love films and love David Mamet, this is the quintessential filmgoer’s film.