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THE SPANISH PRISONER

USA, 1997 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: David Mamet

From pre-eminent playwright, screenwriter and director David Mamet comes an intriguing film which mixes greed, paranoia and power into a heady concoction leaving the viewer literally spell-bound. Joe Ross is a young businessman who has developed a revolutionary business strategy called 'The Process'. When he is sent to the Caribbean by his boss, Klein, to present his idea, he is led to believe there will be a large bonus for his effort. When an enigmatic, wealthy stranger, Jimmy (a quietly menacing Steve Martin), turns up, Joe is hurled into a labyrinth of deception, illusion and mystery.

Mamet's signature staccato dialogue punctuates the intricate plot as it twists and turns endlessly. The narrative is exceedingly clever and recalls the endless surprises of Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. The script is powerfully fleshed out by a remarkable cast - Martin is superb, his performance is a vaguely dangerous revelation. Mamet reaches new heights in cinematic language and verbal slight-of-hand - it is a delight to both the ears and eyes.

"Writing a movie like this is exactly the same as if I were developing a con... The filmmaker has to get something from the audience - their belief, their credulity - which they wouldn't give if they were thinking about it." - David Mamet

"Likening film narrative and cinephilia to a confidence game, Mamet has made his strongest and most entertaining film yet, a work in which the writer/director's stylised jabs at filmic realism work in concert with a tale in which is nothing is what it seems." - Film Maker

David Mamet is one of the most acclaimed playwrights of our time, whose works include Sexual Perversity in Chicago, American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross and Oleanna. As a screenwriter his credits include The Verdict (1982), The Untouchables (1987) and Hoffa (1992). As writer/director, Mamet's films include House of Games (1987), Things Change (1988), Homicide (1991) and Oleanna (1994).

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