Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 2002. 25th Hour Productions, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, Gamut Films, Industry Entertainment, Touchstone Pictures. Screenplay by David Benioff, based on his novel. Cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto. Produced by Julia Chasman, Jon Kilik, Spike Lee, Tobey Maguire. Music by Terence Blanchard. Production Design by James Chinlund. Costume Design by Sandra Hernandez. Film Editing by Barry Alexander Brown. Golden Globe Awards 2002. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2002.
Spike Lee’s bittersweet love poem to the Big Apple is a dark, brooding tale of hope and redemption. Edward Norton gives a fine performance as a drug dealer who has one last day of freedom left before having to finally give himself over to the police to serve his jail sentence. He spends the day with his two best friends (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper) and his father (Brian Cox), all the while avoiding his girlfriend (Rosario Dawson) whom he suspects might have been the one to rat him out to the cops. The rest of the time he walks the streets of his beloved Manhattan, expressing in anger everything that drives him crazy about it (and is therefore why he loves it so much). Too many scenes in this film run on way past their prime, a similar fault that Summer of Sam suffered from, but it is still so worthwhile because of Lee’s effectively capturing a battered, post-9/11 city whose bleeding heart remains an open wound. The shots of Ground Zero are especially eerie beyond belief; this is definitely not the Manhattan of Woody Allen or Sex and the City. Terence Blanchard contributes one of the most beautiful film scores of the year, the key element that gives this very emotional film its almost nightmarish mood.