Spike Lee's New York blues

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EDWARD Norton enjoys a last day of freedom.
photo: Saturn

25th Hour

Starring: Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson /
Directed by: Spike Lee /
Running time: 135 min /
Rating: 9 out of 10

SOMETIMES you feel instant chemistry with a movie. You just fall head over heels for the opening scene with a vicious dog, the score seems perfect and the pictures of New York show the city at its most beautiful. And you just know that this movie is going to be incredible and will linger in your mind for a long time.

In 25th Hour, Monty Brogan is a drug dealer who has a single day left until his seven-year jail sentence starts. Neither his job, nor his situation is something that an average person has been confronted with, and yet, you feel compassion and wonder what you would do if you were in his shoes. Remarkably portrayed by Edward Norton, the character poses the question of the possibility of a second chance for somebody who earns money through the suffering of others.

Both the novel and the screenplay for the movie were finished before September 11th but the filmmakers decided that the events would have to be reflected in the movie. One of the dialogues between Monty's friends, who are trying to figure out whether they will be able to build up a new friendship on the base of one battered by seven years in prison, takes place at a window overlooking Ground Zero.

TIME for the good cop / bad cop treatment.
photo: Saturn

New York is an essential character in many of Lee's films (such as Do the Right Thing or Summer of Sam) but 25th Hour is a particular tribute to the multicultural metropolis and its inhabitants. In a stunning monologue in front of a mirror, Monty recounts all the ethnic groups he hates in the city but what it all comes down to, is his feeling of guilt and regret for losing the freedom to walk its streets.

Norton has already made a name for himself in Red Dragon and Fight Club, but the image of him when he asks his best friend to smash his face in, with an expression of infinitive sadness, will remain his trademark for quite a time.

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