Sunday, December 14, 2008

"The Edge" (1997) - Movie Review

Despite having evolved from cave people, the guards of the luxury in the circumstances we live in has made the nature look in a stature of greatness in fear and respect and more than that is the incapacity to survive in it in today’s weak immunity in us both physically and mentally. Put into the isolation and as they say the real characters come out. The test of the woods in the presence of an unforeseen culture for the city boys was dealt in the creepy cold “Deliverance” and in David Mamet’s script it is something else. It has the factor of Mamet’s writing with people constantly challenging the doubts on the other characters even in desperate situations.

For a photo shoot arrives billionaire and fact fanatic Charles (Anthony Hopkins) with his model wife Mickey (Elle Macpherson) and the photographer Bob (Alec Baldwin) with his crew to the wilderness. Charles has an extreme capability of knowing everything. He is a walking fact book absorbing the words and letters of the books he peruses. Charles at his step on old age looks his beautiful wife Mickey and Bob work with each other. He believes with certainty that something more than photo shoot is happening in between them or may be it is his early symptoms of going senile. Typical Mamet’s work in action with characters doubting each other and showing different colours of them as the story proceeds.

Charles is a strong man in his mannerisms of terse speech and handling any situation at his leisure of coolness. Take for example the surprise party they pull off for him with a fright of a dummy bear, where he gets panicky and in a split second shaves it off and fits back in to the mode of his casualness without any one even noticing it. He gets a lovely gift from his wife and also a pocket knife from Bob. The film sets up this tension between these two men and they start off on an impromptu trip to a nearby location for finding Bob’s photo model. With flocks of birds hitting the plane, they crash land in to the water leaving Bob, Charles and Bob’s assistant Steve (Harold Perrinneau) to survive.

Charles as a man of power becomes the man of action in this situation. He knows the facts, theoretical of course but they would take anything at that point. And then the journey for survival begins with the weather, wild and the man eating bear making their death imminent. They walk and walk with Charles keeping them upbeat with his facts. He distracts their pain and agony with sayings and tidbits of information. He says that most people lost in the woods die because of shame. Shame of putting themselves and the others to the misery they got in. He asks to learn from it. No use in repenting which you cannot alter.

There are head of a company grown from the ground up as a white collar job and there are those who scratched the surface and rose up in tiny steps starting from menial work. Charles is the latter. He is humble in his accomplishment, in fact he is little bit ashamed of it. He also thinks of him as a freak to know so many things. And in a particular instant says a truthful thing about his character that he has no imagination. He doubts Bob but changes the mind when he is convinced by the fact of Bob saving his life in one instance. Bob is humoured by the knowledge that Charles suspects him of fooling around with his wife. There is a subtle emotional boxing happening in between these two men. Keeping them alive and in the process having their antennas for sudden behaviour.

Lee Tamahori directs the film in intense wilderness with rigorous physical strain on the actors and I bet would have been tougher for his crew. And the Bart the Bear playing the man eating animal has to be mentioned for giving the terror feel when it appears charging at the people. It is no surprise that Anthony Hopkins is convincing in this billionaire of exquisite knowledge of everything because he is a much human form of Hannibal Lecter. Without ferociousness and calm in his approach in keeping his spirit consistently high, Hopkins as usual does his thing. Alec Baldwin blew me away with his chameleonic nature and constantly asking what to do as he is completely dependent on Charles. Still he knows him too well and senses his anticipation as he have to be for the things he did.

“The Edge” is a play technique Mamet gives under circumstances eliminating the world we know. In the absence of people to impress and be loved and the urge to be some one else and hide, they begin to operate more openly and loosen up especially Charles. Yet even in that remote situation, the mind of one person to another is a guessing game. It never can be sensed when the doubts are the rising element in each other. They get together to save each other but in the back of their mind, there is a constant satellite alert for discrepancy. This nature is what makes us human in best and worst situations.

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