Edmond is a little odd, a little humorous, a little gruesome, and a little twisted. While William H. Macy is, of course, amazing in the strength of his abilities, unfortunately Edmond as a film is not as well rounded. Classified as a thriller, Edmond is disturbing, but only because its intentions are vague. The movie touches on sex, murder, racism, and homosexual issues, but I can’t say the film is about any of those things. The film follows Edmond, but to where? Through what? And, why? What could be the most interesting aspect of the film is just trying to figure out what the movie is about.
At the beginning of Edmond the title character, played by Macy, randomly sees a fortune teller who says to him after a period of laying down Tarot cards, “you are not where you are supposed to be.” So, with the audience not yet knowing this character at all, he breaks up with his wife, has a strange little fight with her, and leaves. For the next forty minutes Edmond spends his time on the streets walking in and out of strip/sex clubs trying to get laid and not wanting to pay too much. He figures if he can get some, it will clear his mind, or fix things, or something. Keep in mind that forty minutes is half of the length of the entire film. Half of a film is about a guy named Edmond looking for some physical satisfaction and finding himself short on cash (because these places don’t take American Express or Visa). Sadly, this is the better half of the flick.
While the fortune teller part, although short, is played wonderfully, her predictions of the future are artistically carried on throughout the rest of the film until about the last twenty minutes or so. Basically what the fortuneteller saw applied to his life but only up until a point, and then we’re left on our own for interpretation. I don’t like that. At least not in a movie like this. The writer and director should know to take the audience where they want them and tell them what they want them to know, but if they loose their trail and get off the road, then they should have updated the audience. We needed to see more of the inner workings of Edmond, not just his external actions and reactions.
That being said, the quality of the writing is good, and the quality of characterization is well thought out. For those first forty minutes, Edmond is urgently looking for a partner for an hour and yet still has a very human entrapment about how much the reality of such an act will cost him. Things like that are nice, real, touches. Problems arise when his character seems out of place in the world and yet we aren’t given any clues as to why he would continue to stay outside on city streets in the middle of the night. He could just as easily go home, say he’s sorry, and crawl into bed with his wife. Free sex issue solved.
Equally as unsettling is the seeming lack of direction for the story around the ending, which is definitely left wide open for interpretation. The fortuneteller bit carries the audience most of the way and then suddenly the sense of prediction is lost and there is a nothing. The audience doesn’t know Edmond any better than they did at the beginning except that he had a large breakdown around minute forty-one in the middle of the film. In any other film a slight twist or change in direction for the ending would have been welcome. With Edmond, the surprise ending doesn’t just change directions, it slams on the breaks, kicks you out of the car in the middle of the road, has you run over by a Mack truck and then kidnapped and thrown into the trunk of another car.
What is nice about the film and David Mamet’s writing is that there are no good guys. Every character in the movie is shown as real. No one is left to look perfect, or innocent. While the named actresses in the film aren’t there for long, even they are flawed people only looking out for themselves. Through quotes in the film there is a definite feel for what the story was trying to go for, I just don’t know if it made it. Edmond is a very intense movie, especially with Macy having so much strength of talent, but chances are this is a film you can’t “get” by seeing it only once. While it’s a bit off, and a little stumbling toward the end, everything in the film is perfectly connected so a second, third, or forth go at it would probably reveal a stronger appreciation for what Mamet and Gordon were trying to do.
With Edmond being such an odd film, very far from the typical Hollywood flick, it is good to see there are features to help explain some things. First, however, there is a pet peeve on this disc that drives me crazy. The first special feature is entitled “Anatomy of a Thriller.” Now, in this extra you see some side interviews, some behind the scenes takes, and some of the filming for the movie. Those things are for the movie. They show the actresses, the director, etc. What then, is the “anatomy” part of this feature? They didn’t interview the writer or anyone else that knows or specializes in creating thriller type films. Learning about how a thriller or horror type film is made would be an “anatomy” lesson, not interviews about how the street smells like pee. This feature should have been called Behind the Scenes. As a side though, it was a good feature, just incorrectly titled.
There are also some deleted scenes included. For the most part, with the film only running 82 minutes long, I think all of these scenes could have been included in the film. Especially the parts with the fortuneteller which are much longer and would have helped set up Edmond’s character more. The woman tells him about an unsatisfied, hollow-like feeling and he agrees. Right away in the film we would have known his feelings rather than the scene of him splitting up with his wife coming out of left field. I can appreciate why they were cut out, but would have liked the affect it would have had on the film.
Lastly, a truly wonderful and helpful feature is the fact that the disc for Edmond has two audio commentaries. One features David Mamet, the writer, and the other follows the director Stuart Gordon. A brilliant idea and one that is not used too often for other films. And can you believe it? It’s all on one disc! Thank you. If the whole film doesn’t explain itself, at least there are enough quality extras to fill in the gaps and make seeing it again worth your while.