People I Know (2002) 

There’s a half decent movie buried somewhere in here, but I’ll be damned if I can find it even with a fine-tooth comb. You’ve got a promising basic premise and several plot points that mixed together would make a competent thriller with some decent depth to it, but the movie fails completely to do anything interesting with the material it is given. It just limps from scene to scene with no clear vision of where it wants to go with the story. One of the weakest parts of the movie is the encompassing charity benefit Pacino’s character is trying to throw. The movie tries to make a poignant point about politics, how making a difference is important and how the possible future fruits from your labors and endeavours are the only thing sustaining you and your career, etc. but it completely misses its mark on how it handles it.Instead of having any type of gravitas and political intrigue via showcasing seedy back room negotiations and blackmail to get what you want, it ends up just consisting of several scenes of Pacino harassing his assistant about the seat arrangement and occasionally trying to sweet talk and beg people to even bother showing up. It’s just a mess. Rather than insightful, it comes off as corny. And pathetic, which in a way could have been the point, but it comes off in a wrong way.

Even the actors doesn’t salvage anything from this trainwreck. They prove to be just as meandering in their performance as everything else in the movie, and offer no relief to the mind numbing viewing experience. Téa Leoni proves once again to have the stage presence of a wet paper bag. Present, but in that uncomfortable, out of place type of way. She’s so awful and miscast in this that I’m frankly starting to question if she was even any good in You just kill me, from where I primarily know her as an actress. Maybe I completely hallucinated her being pretty good in that because in the past few years I’ve seen her in plenty of things and they’re all proven to be equally terrible. She’s like a black hole, no screen presence at all, Void of any Hollywood charisma. As for Pacino, well, if you ever wanted to see Al Pacino sleepwalking through a role while looking absolutely trashed and confused, as if he had been on a week long bender five minutes before they began shooting, this is the movie for you. The movie also features Kim Basinger in a small and insignificant role that ultimately makes you wonder why she was even cast to the movie. Did she have nothing better to do? Was she desperate for a gig? Her career was going nowhere around this time period, now that I think about it. L.A Confidential was already five years in the past at this point and it was still a year from before she did The Door in the Floor, so maybe. But I digress. Kim’s subplot is so inane, such a non-entity and out of place with the rest of the story that I can’t understand how it ever got through the editing process. To be fair, she was basically there as a carrot for Pacino’s character to quit the life where he was slowly fading to obscurity, it would be  a convenient excuse to retire, but it never gets developed enough to have any type of real significance like it is suppose to. You don’t care about their possible life together. It’s just there and feels fake. Pacino even looks like he’s embarrassed by the waves she’s sending his way than for a second truly find the option interesting or viable. And that of course ruins the ending because it does in part hinge on you buying their relationship and if you don’t, the tragic ending has no teeth nor bite. Even the charity benefit turning out to be a success doesn’t move you because honestly, by that point you’ve lost all interest in anything that’s going on in this movie and you’re just counting the seconds so that the movie would be over.

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