Dir: Joe Mantegna. US. 2000. 98 mins.
Prod cos: Oregon Trail Films, One Vibe Entertainment. Int'l sales: contact Oregon Trail Films (+ 1 503 250 5858). Prods: Joe Mantegna, Eric R Epperson, Tony Mamet, Morris Ruskin. Exec prod: Alan James. Scr: David Mamet. DoP: Paul Sarossy. Prod des: Thomas Carnegie. Ed: Christopher Cibelli. Mus: Bob Mamet. Main cast: Charles Durning, Peter Falk, Robert Forster, JJ Johnson, Denis Leary, Jack Wallace, George Wendt, Tony Mamet, Saul Rubinek, Andy Garcia.
No more than a series of conversations between the workers on board a lakeboat in the Great Lakes, Joe Mantegna's directorial debut is a film-of-a-David-Mamet-play which serves to showcase great actors at work while failing to achieve any narrative momentum.
Indeed, there is no narrative. Mamet himself spent time on a lakeboat in his youth and his recollections were staged in Los Angeles under Mantegna's direction five years ago. But even fans of Mamet will be looking at their watches during this highly uncinematic film rendering. Theatrical buyers will pass: video and cable seem the film's natural homes, since the non-stop use of the "f" and "c" words will prohibit much free-TV business.
The film, which opened the Los Angeles International Film Festival last week, is a Mamet family affair: it was co-produced by David's younger brother Tony, who also stars as the young man Dale, and it was scored by another brother Bob. It opens as Dale boards the boat and, through prolonged monologues or conversations, slowly introduces us to his boatmates - captain Durning, first mate Wendt, Leary, Forster et al. Ongoing speculation about what happened to the ship's missing cook (Garcia) while on leave adds a little interest.
Dialogue is standard Mamet fare - foul-mouthed macho posturing masking unfulfilled dreams. Mantegna's affectionate treatment of - and Dale's admiration for - this misogynistic, homophobic, rank-pulling bunch of hard-drinking misfits will be hard for many viewers to understand.