Director Daniel Algrant’s 2002 film stars a just brilliant Al Pacino, who scalds the screen as Eli Wurman, a burnt-out, over-stretched Manhattan PR press agent trying to arrange a charity function, struggling with actors and the press, and stumbling across a political conspiracy and murder. Decadent and drug addicted, Eli takes a detour to an opium den with client Téa Leoni, and then sees her killed.
A first-rate character study, a look at the dark side of the PR publicity game and a film-noir thriller, this has success in all three areas thanks to an excellent, finely honed screenplay by Jon Robin Baitz. People I Know certainly provides gripping, intelligent adult entertainment.
But it’s Pacino’s performance that makes it truly memorable. Pacino would be riveting reading the phone book, but here he’s got a virtuoso role in a dark and provocative movie that’s got lots of clever things to say.
There’s a clutch of super support performances, with Ryan O’Neal giving his best performance in years as a slimy, ageing movie star. Richard Schiff, Bill Nunn, Robert Klein, Mark Webber and Rex Reed (as himself) support. Kim Basinger is perhaps less impressive as Eli’s supportive sister-in-law, Victoria Gray, but still plenty good enough.
© Derek Winnert 2014 Classic Movie Review 1158
Link to Derek Winnert’s home page for more film reviews: http://derekwinnert.com/