People I Know

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Rating: R

Starring:
Al Pacino as Eli Wurman
Kim Basinger as Victoria Gray
Ryan O’Neal as Cary Launer
Téa Leoni as Jilli Hopper
Richard Schiff as Elliot Sharansky
Bill Nunn as The Reverend Lyle Blunt
Robert Klein as Dr. Sandy Napier
Mark Webber as Ross
Eldon Bullock as Washroom Attendant
Ramsey Faragallah as David Fielding
Brian McConnachie as Jamie Hoff
Frank Wood as Michael Wormly
Rex Reed as Himself
Lewis Dodley as Himself

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes

Commentary Track with Director

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
French Language Track
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 100 Minutes

Synopsis:
Eli Wurman is a top notch New York publicist who is quickly facing burnout. After years of hob-nobbing and schmoozing with celebrities and political figures, he’s finally down to his last client, the super star Cary Launer. However, Wurman is desperate to do something significant with his life. He attempts to fulfill this goal by organizing a fund raising dinner for Nigerian refugees about to be deported. Eli rounds up the hottest names in New York along with the most influential people, but has he lost sight of his true goal to do something noble?

Meanwhile, Cary Launer approaches Eli in desperate need of help. His TV star girlfriend, Jilli Hopper, has been thrown in jail and needs to be quickly and quietly bailed out. Eli agrees to help since cleaning up celebrity messes is what he does best. But when Eli gets Jilli out of jail, she takes him to a secret location where he sees way too much. Now the man who makes it his business to know everything about everyone finds out what he’s seen could get him killed.

People I Know is rated R for language, drug use and brief sexual images.

The Movie:
People I Know is yet another dark drama with a stellar cast that ends up being boring, depressing, and a little too self-important for its own good.

I had two major problems with the film. The first was that I could never sympathize with these characters. I care little for the angst of the rich and famous, and that’s what this movie is centered around. All the characters care about is who they are seen with, where in the newspaper they are mentioned, and who they know. It’s so shallow and meaningless that I had a hard time identifying with the characters much less feeling bad for Eli when he gets worked up about it. I believe the point of the movie was to emphasize just how shallow it all was, but that didn’t make it any more entertaining for me.

My second major problem with the movie was that it was depressing. If you like movies with happy endings, this isn’t it. The story spends most of its time wallowing in the characters’ problems then ends up hammering them flat at the end. It’s only on rare occasions that I like dark movies with sad endings and this wasn’t one of them. There wasn’t enough payoff at the end to make it worth watching the torture. The film also portrays blacks, Jews, and liberals in general as corrupt, power hungry individuals who are more interested in themselves than the causes they represent. I’m sure this will ruffle some feathers.

Al Pacino is pretty good as Eli Wurman. He looks frazzled, ragged, and generally burned out. I don’t think it took Pacino much to look that way, but the role suited him. Kim Basinger is barely on the screen as Victoria Gray, Eli’s sister-in-law. She’s sweet and pretty in the film, but it’s hard to believe that she’d be romantically interested in Eli beyond the fact that he’s a lot like her deceased husband. Téa Leoni is also barely in the film as Jilli Hopper. She also nails the look of a burned out, drug addicted actress. Unfortunately, the bulk of her performance involves her acting stoned. Ryan O’Neal also has a cameo as Cary Launer, a supposedly superstar actor with a menacing presence. I had a hard time buying Cary as a heavy, so the revelations about him at the end were a bit hard to swallow.

All in all, I was disappointed by People I Know. I usually like the movies that these stars are in, but the story just didn’t do it for me.

The Extras:
Deleted Scenes – There are only two deleted scenes in this movie, and they both feature the World Trade Center. The movie was obviously filmed before they were destroyed. The removal of these scenes was probably a good idea because the scenes featured the WTC as the location of a secret opium den and shots of the towers are also turned on their side in another scene.

Commentary Track with Director – Dan Algrant and a friend who is a stage and film writer and director provide the commentary for this movie. Algrant has interesting bits of info about the filming, but not enough to really generate interest for me in the film. Maybe having the actors provide commentary would have helped. One highlight of the commentary comes from Algrant when he talks about filming part of the movie at the World Trade Center.

The Bottom Line:
This movie is only for die hard fans of Pacino and fans of dark character dramas. Everyone else will probably have a hard time connecting with the characters and getting into the depressing plot.

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