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Spanish Prisoner, The


Steve Martin puts in a fantastic turn as a shady character in this mind-twisting thriller from masterful writer/director David Mamet (House of Games).

Campbell Scott (Roger Dodger, wonderfully understated in his meekness here) plays Joe, a man who has developed a valuable formula called The Process (we never know what its for) for a company headed by Mr. Klein (Ben Gazzara).

Joe travels with Mr. Klein (and company secretary Susan, played by Mamet's wife Rebecca Pidgeon) to the Carribean to meet with potential investors.

There, Joe meets the charming and mysterious Jimmy Dell (Martin), a high-flying millionaire who befriends him. But is Jimmy simply trying to steal The Process? Will Joe play into his hands? Or is he simply being paranoid?

Like many of Mamet's films, The Spanish Prisoner examines the nature of the con, indeed, the title refers to a famous con described by characters in the film.

There's a wonderfully sustained feeling of ambiguity to the film, and we can never be sure where certain character's loyalties lie.

Mamet's dialogue has a stagy, almost unrealistic feel to it, but this seems to only add to the bizarre tone of the film.

Martin is a revelation as Jimmy Dell - its surely his most interesting performance of the past decade. Mamet regular Ricky Jay is also welcome as Joe's friend (or is he?) George Lang.

 


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