Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oleanna (1994)

Typically strong piece from David Mamet about sexual politics between a college professor and his feminist student. The whole film involves the interplay between the two on three separate occasions, each with escalating conflict and tension. William H. Macy plays the teacher as a bored man who has seen the seams in the education system he represents and seeks to escape it, if only for one student. Debra Eisenstadt plays the student as a lost soul, desperate for a confirmation that her struggle to get accepted to a prestigious school was worth it. Both of the actors are extremely sensitive and believable, and keep you interested as the conflict develops.

Mamet is a master wordsman, and this film is no exception. The interplay between the two is relentlessly fascinating, especially during the early developments. Mamet has a keen sense of what is essential and what can remain unsaid, and uses it to create enormous amounts of tension that build up for the entirety of the running time. The true mark of brilliance of this film, and the element that keeps it in almost a constant stream of major stage revivals, is that you do not know who the villain is. Both characters manage to seem completely justified in their actions from their point of view, even if you do end up taking one of their sides. The dialogue hints at much but divulges little; the main question of the film seems to be, "if something might've potentially happened, and seems like it could have happened, is that nearly as bad as it actually happening?" It is left for you, the viewer, to decide, and the graciousness of Mamet to the intelligence of the viewer gives the endeavor a hefty amount of integrity.

Highly Recommended. Sure to instigate arguments between friends, family, and especially lovers. Just don't complain about it being talky...if you don't like films where people talk a lot, this isn't for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment