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With: Joe Mantegna, William H. Macy, Natalija Nogulich, Ving Rhames, Vincent Guastaferro, Rebecca Pidgeon, J. J. Johnston, Jack Wallace, Lionel Mark Smith, Roberta Custer, Charles Stransky, Bernard Gray, Paul Butler, Colin Stinton, Louis Murray, Christopher Kaldor, Linda Kimbrough, Robin Spielberg, Ricky Jay
Written by: David Mamet
Directed by: David Mamet
MPAA Rating: R for language and violence
Running Time: 102
Date: 05/01/1991
IMDB

Homicide (1991)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Background Check

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In David Mamet's third feature film Homicide (1991), Joe Mantegna plays Bobby Gold, a detective -- and a hostage negotiator -- of less than good standing in the New York Police Department. He sees a way to re-affirm himself by arresting and bringing in a high-profile bad guy that the FBI has failed to nab. But on the way, he runs into a murder scene at a tough neighborhood corner store; an old Jewish lady has been killed. He winds up assigned to that case, at the request of the lady's powerful family, rather than his original, star-making case. He resents this treatment, just as -- we discover -- he resents his own Jewish heritage. But as the case unfolds, he finds himself getting deeper into a mystery, and re-discovering himself in the process. But this is Mamet, and so we're not exactly talking about happily-ever-after here.

When Mamet's films were new, they seemed like nothing else around, but now that he has directed ten of them, a pattern has begun to form. Mamet's dialogue is tough and gritty, but it's also artificial and deliberately rhythmic, and so it doesn't always work in strictly realistic situations. In this same vein, as most of the individual lines work, so do most of the individual scenes, but the larger story arc seems stretched. Standing back and looking with perspective, Bobby makes a huge leap in a relatively short amount of time, and in a realistic, streetwise movie, it doesn't quite click. But I still like the movie for the way it immerses itself in each moment, and for the intense way it moves and sounds. William H. Macy plays Bobby's partner, who doesn't quite understand Bobby's new obsession, and Ving Rhames plays a thug. Mamet regulars Rebecca Pidgeon (his wife) and Ricky Jay are also here.

DVD Details: The Criterion Collection's Homicide DVD comes with a strong commentary track by Mamet and Macy, a great, short gag reel and interviews with some of Mamet's regular actors. The liner notes include an essay by Stuart Klawans.