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People I Know (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Sundance press conference; Cast interviews; Trailer.

AL PACINO provides yet another mesmerising star turn in this bleak, yet watchable thriller, about a veteran New York press agent who finds himself attempting to manage a crisis that places his career, reputation, and eventually his life, at risk.

As Eli Wurman, Pacino is on prolific form, really getting under the skin of his publicist, in a performance that comes dripping with the stale stench of the cigarettes, pharmaceuticals and alcohol he continually consumes throughout the film.

Wurman is a PR legend, a wily veteran with one of the biggest black books in the business, whose reputation stretches back to the Sixties.

There is nothing he won’t do for the people in his charge, even though such fierce loyalties threaten to compromise his standing, so when Ryan O’Neil’s big-time movie star, Cary Launer, asks him to bail Téa Leoni’s aspiring actress out of prison, Wurman suddenly finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy involving some of New York’s most powerful figures.

Hence, Wurman suddenly finds himself calling in favours and going out on a limb at a time in his life when he ought to be thinking of retirement - a prospect made all the more alluring by the presence of his former sister-in-law, Kim Basinger, who wants nothing more than to get away with him.

People I Know has been knocking around for some two years now, having been completed in 2002, at about the same time as S1m0ne and Insomnia. But anyone who thinks this is a sign of a bad film, had better think again.

Director, Daniel Algrant’s thriller is a terrific character study, which provides Pacino with an excellent showcase for his undisputed talent, tapping into the same sort of bleak territory which made earlier turns in 70s-based thrillers such as Serpico similarly eye-catching.

Wurman is a character who smacks of desperation, one we can continue to root for, even when realising that he is swimming against the tide. And Pacino provides an electric presence, trading well with just about everyone who fills the screen around him.

It’s just a shame, therefore, that the plot, itself, consistently fails to match the quality of the acting, by simply becoming too formulaic and uninspiring to consistently hold the attention.

There is also a grim inevitably hanging around it, which is likely to alienate anyone in search of a happy ending, and making it an arduous journey, which can frequently test the patience.

Pacino aficionados will probably want to seek it out in order to witness another star turn from their idol, particularly in light of a similarly blistering performance in TV’s Angels in America, but this is strictly for the die-hards only, given the by-the-numbers nature of its storyline.

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