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ALBINO ALLIGATOR

USA, 1996 (MIFF 1997, International)

Director: Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey's (Usual Suspects, Seven) shatter­ing directorial debut. Albino Alligator takes the familiar frame of a heist gone wrong/hostage drama and hangs upon it astonishing perfor­mances from the entire cast, innumerable plot twists and a dazzling visual style. In the grand tradition of Dog Day Afternoon and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Dova (Matt Dillon), Milo (Gary Sinise) and Law (William Fichtner) bungle a burglary, coincidentally interrupt a Federal stake-out on an arms dealer and wreck their car in the getaway. Stumbling into 'Dino's Last Chance Bar', the trio are soon surrounded - psy­chologically by the barflies inside and physically by the cops outside.

Surface detail is all that links Albino Alligator to other films of this ilk. Spacey's approach is to lead the viewer into familiar situations and then tug the rug. It is refreshing to note that although there are a handful of moments where tempers flare and violence erupts, it's not until the film is over that you realise that none of it is ever shown on-camera.

Michael Brooks pulsating score, a stellar cast fleshed out by Fay Dunaway, Joe Mantegna and M. Emmet Walsh and a truly gob-smacking cli­max mark this as one of the year's most grip­ping, suspenseful and accomplished films. What are you willing to sacrifice in order to survive?

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