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Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) is 24 hours from a seven year stretch for drug dealing, and scared our of his wits. What will they do to a good looking young guy in jail? He’s also unsure who tipped off the cops about his stash, and suspects his beautiful Puerto Rican girlfriend Naturelle (Rosario Dawson). His farewell party looming, he draws around him his best friend, the stock trader Slaughtery (Barry Pepper) and the university lecturer, Jacob (Philip Seymour Hoffman). And he tries to reconnect with his father (Brian Cox) who feels guilty about the path his son has taken. While his son feels desperate and stupid

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It seems to me that 25th Hour is yet another novel that should not have been made into a film. Despite Spike Lee’s flair and his cinematic instincts, the jump from printed word to photographed action is clumsy, longwinded and pretentious. Sometimes this is done with grandstanding, like the extended sequence overlooking the site of the World Trade Centre terrorist attack. Tired camera angles (like melodramatic legs view of characters getting out of cars) and meandering dialogue in scenes without dramatic action drag the subject matter down. And what is the subject matter? Edward Norton is well cast to generate sympathy for his character as a drug dealer, and his soggy apology for getting into the mess he’s in plays more like sorry for himself than sorry for the lives he may have ruined with his trade. He cares more for his dog. But because he’s nice to his girlfriend and wants a rapprochement with his kindly old dad, we are suckered into rooting for him. Oh, and that spew of anger at every minority in New York (otherwise a might-have-been great stand up comedy routine) by Monty talking to his alter ego in the restaurant toilet mirror. The sidebar story about repressed Jacob and his 17 year old horny student (Anna Paquin) is misplaced in the film. It should have been thrown out. The relationship with Monty’s best friend Slaughtery is handled with too much clunk, and the establishment of all the characters plays as if scenes were cut-and-pasted from the book, without any regard for cinematic coherence. The multiple streams of relationships are cut down for the screen but not honed. And the notion that Monty can wonder about Manhattan freely and go to a farewell party on the eve of a seven year stretch is too far fetched for credibility. Don’t convicted drug dealers go straight to prison from the dock in New York anymore? Infused with sentimentality (with a matching score) and scenes going nowhere, the film is an insult to Spike Lee’s name. 

Review by Louise Keller:
Tense and powerful, 25th Hour is a gripping drama that takes place over 24 long hours. It’s set at a time immediately prior to the protagonist’s seven year gaol term, and this is when he re-evaluates his life and relationships. It is a reflection of moral issues, not only from the point of view of the convicted drug dealer, but also of those closest to him. Spike Lee has brought together the elements from David Benioff’s novel and set the story in post 9/11 New York, which adds a certain darkness and foreboding. With brilliant use of cinematic techniques that weave flashbacks and fantasies, Lee also uses music to almost overwhelm us with denseness. It’s a fabulous score with jazzy overtones and soulful violins, and music – just like New York – becomes a character. We first meet Monty when he saves a dog’s life. While it may be on the surface a humanitarian deed, we instantly recognise Monty to be a loner whose motivations are selfish. All the characters are edgy, and as we meet them one by one, tension mounts. There’s tension in the classroom as Jacob tries to cope with Mary, his fiery, ambitious young student, and there’s strain on the floor of Wall Street as Frank watches the markets rise. There’s also a glimmer of distrust and distance in the relationship between Monty and Naturelle. Is she or is she not the one who dobbed him in? As we see how these characters fit together and we get to know them, we get a sense of their lives. As a drug dealer, Monty cannot have our sympathy, but we also see another side of him – that of a devoted son and a loyal friend. Edward Norton gives a striking performance as Monty, allowing us to get right into his head. Take the scene set in the restroom of his father’s bar, when Monty unleashes a tirade of hatred for every minority group he can imagine. From Osama and terrorists to Pakistani cab drivers, he spits out his resentment and hatred of them all. It’s a mesmerising piece. All the characters are perfectly cast, with Philip Seymour Hoffman ideal as the timid schoolteacher who dwells on the past and Anna Paquin feisty as the brash, flirtatious student. Barry Pepper’s arrogant banker sets a wonderful dynamic for Monty to counter, while Rosario Dawson brings a softness and intrigue to Naturelle. The pace and energy holds throughout the film and the sequence of possibilities that Brian Cox’s compassionate father describes (as he is driving Monty to prison), colours and offers a beguiling and tangible option. I loved the sequence, so filled with haunting images. 25th Hour is about the nuances and self doubts that play within all the characters. The climax is a startling and fitting conclusion to this potent film. The day is long, but that 25th hour marks a lifetime.

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Favourable: 1 (Louise)
Unfavourable: 1 (Andrew)
Mixed: 0




CAST: Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Tony Siragusa

PRODUCER: Spike Lee, John Kilik, Tobey Maguire, Julia Chasman


SCRIPT: David Benioff (from his novel)


EDITOR: Barry Alexander Brown

MUSIC: Terence Blanchard


RUNNING TIME: 135 minutes



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