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Friday, September 20, 2013

"Phil Spector", Wall of Muted Sound

Phil Spector
It's quite strange. Being objective, "Phil Spector" doesn't have any big flaw. Good acting, a serious script, and a point of view that wants to offer something different, something more: a trial film no focused on the trial itself (something that would had been very dear to Hollywood), a drama without willing to "sell the drama" or win thanks to its impact, and a look to fame quite distant from the cliche-prone that celebrity biopics tend to be. But despite the remarkable virtues, the film is quite empty, lifeless.

Now go figure, the movie is about Phil Spector, a myth now in jail, a music producer legend transformed into the perfect example of an eccentric celebrity wasted away. What a potentially irresistible candy this could be in the hands of a greedy producer or/and an ambitious director. But that's not the case, prestigious director and writer David Mamet transforms a potential blockbuster into a radically unexpected proposal. A pretty obscure investigation/analysis of the clash between society and justice: was Spector convicted because a murder or because his fame and odd lifestyle?

And to show the dilemma Mamet delivers a script heavy on dialogues to two heavyweight actors: Helen Mirren and Al Pacino. To be honest, I was expecting nothing but another solid performance from Mirren and she doesn't disappoint in her role of defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden, but I was quite scared with Pacino, thinking that with such an eccentric and extreme character he could create another abomination like his Tony Montana (sorry Brian de Palma fans, not my cup of tea, to be polite), grotesque and annoying. But on the contrary, Pacino's Spector seems real, the rage episodes balancing admirably with the fragile looks of a wasted old man. Frustration and ego dramatically colliding on a person that really believes he should be treated like the legend he is.

Indeed, the elements are there, but the movie never really grabs you. It's a very cold movie, probably too analytic and little rewarding for the viewer. But aside from the emotional, then subjective, factors, the fact is "Spector" doesn't go further on the actual events of the case, there's zero detail about what went on court, which might be a brave or at least coherent move from Mamet. The director wanted to depict the relation between the music producer and his attorney while pointing out the "shadows" of a process too full of other elements than just the need to clarify if there was evidence enough to condemn Phil Spector as the murder of Lana Clarkson, but really ruins the whole point about the film. Once the trial begins, the film ends, so the spectator has the feeling the he has been watching the whole preparation of the trial just to be left without it. The way the whole thing concludes makes Mamet's proposal look biased and incomplete. This shouldn't be called "Phil Spector", but rather "The Phil Spector's defense preparations". That's enough to make a solid film? I have some serious doubts about it...

SCORE: 5,75/10

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