Culture Street

By Joseph Rana

Working for a living is a hard task. It is easier for some, but can be nerve-wrenching for the majority. Any individual out there, who prides in his existence, will agree that job security is one of the greatest boons in life.

While it is hard to explain or give a practical demonstration of the pressures that entail a job to the individual, it is a lot easier to depict it through the medium of the cinema.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play and starring the infallible Al Pacino alongside an incredibly talented cast, Glengarry Glen Ross is a 1992 drama, based on the screenplay by David Mamet that takes us on a journey of realisation. Work is a serious business, and as the movie’s tagline reads, can often lead individuals down the murky path to: “Lie. Cheat. Steal”.

The film is about a group of four real-estate salesman, who desperately need to turn ‘leads’ (potential clients) into ‘sales’, in order to keep their jobs secure. Blake (Alec Baldwin) pitches in a guest appearance as a Sales-Motivator, who on behalf of the parent company gives the out-of-luck sales agents a man-to-man ultimatum - survive or perish. He pitches a sales contest where the winner takes all, while the loser gets fired from the job.

All four agents have their own way of dealing with the situation: Dave Moss (Ed Harris) plans a burglary of his office to sell the ‘good’  leads to a competing real-estate office; Shelley “The Machine”  Levene (Jack Lemmon) uses his lying and smooth-talk tactics to lure clients; George Aaronow (Alan Arkin) is a down on his luck frustrated salesman; and Ricky Roma (Al Pacino) is the office ‘superstar’ salesman, whose ability to think and react quickly, combined with his gift of the gab makes him the strongest contender to win the competition.

In the end, the movie does not remain about the competition itself, but more about the impact on working class people presented with the pressures of day-to-day life to win and to survive.

Jack Lemmon won the Volvi Cup for Best Actor for his role at the Venice Film Festival, while Al Pacino received yet another well-deserved Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best-Supporting Actor.

All praise aside, the movie is however, meant for the ‘thinking-class’ audience, and can, at times, be  devoid of entertainment, a fact that proves that brilliant stories may not be, after all, for the masses.

Watch Glengarry Glen Ross if you are having a bad week at the office. It is guaranteed to give you a boost, and a few laughs, possibly at yourself, and you may end up appreciating your work place more.

And, next time you feel like taking a dig at your local real-estate agent, think again; they have a living to earn too.

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