Saturday, February 10, 2007

Review of the 25th Hour (2002)

Ed Norton stars as a convicted drug dealer and the film covers a man's last 24 hours before he goes to prison. Spike Lee takes the already interesting premise a step farther, by subtly turning it into a biopic, providing a somber and intricate picture of an indisputably good man who went down the wrong path. The movie's other strong suit is the relationships focused on here between the people Norton spends his last night of freedom with: his loving father (Brian Cox), his two childhood friends (Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper), and his girlfriend (Rosario Dawson). His two friends, in particular, fit into the movie terrifically. Pepper plays a hotshot broker on Wall Street who brings with him a cynical attitude and Hoffman plays a more quiet and reserved schoolteacher, who like Norton has trouble resisting temptation, in the form of an attractive student (Anna Paquin). The film is, overall, very compelling. Spike Lee's filmmaking trademarks, intelligence and politically-charged tones, are evident here in an unusual way. Lee tries to portray racial inequality, and while Norton's Monty Bergen is a blue-blooded American, he is harshly punished for making what is depicted here as an honest living, in the same way that many of his black counterparts deal with in the drug trade. Spike Lee's enemy here is the war on drugs, he makes a strong statement against it, and he uses a white character maybe to keep it from purely being a racially charged piece of propaganda.

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