Movie Review by S Felce
Starring: Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Anna Paquin
Director: Spike Lee
24 hours are the hours of freedom left to Monty before he goes to prison for seven years. The 25th is the one in which he should redeem, escape or accept his punishment. However, this story is not about the last day of his life, but a whole existence he has never lived. Spike Lee’s new film is about life missed out on because of a mistake or bad luck, about things never said or done and a chance for a new existence.
Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) is a convicted drug dealer about to go to prison for seven years. He has one last day of freedom which he decides to spend with his father (Brian Cox), his friends Jacob (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Frank (Barry Pepper), and his girlfriend Naturelle (Rosario Dawson). The story is very simple and it takes place just over a 24-hour period. But it is set for the first time in New York after 11/9/01, where not only what happened to the World Trade Center is mentioned, but it used by Lee to blend it together with Monty’s life, so that two stories become one. The pain and the anger of New Yorkers and Americans become the pain and anger of Monty.
Jacob and Frank can see the rubble of World Trade Center from the window of Frank’s luxury apartment. Ground zero emerges from the night, illuminated by the artificial lights of workers, which make it look more ghostly and unreal. The camera zooms closer to the people working there and then it moves back on the apartment, behind Jacob and Frank in front of the window. They are talking about Monty, about his life and how he destroyed it and about the future of their friendship with him. But they’re also talking about their lives, what it is wrong or right in them. The essence of the movie is all in that one frame – the camera looking at the two guys looking at the WTC while talking about an uncertain future. Lee was able to take a piece of reality and make it work so well with the story that one overwhelms the other.
The ending is ambiguously left often to a lot of interpretations. Life offers millions of choices and possibilities. Will everybody be able to live a new dream, or will we all have to pay for what we have done to have a chance at a new life?