25th Hour

Starring Edward Norton, Rosario Dawson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Brian Cox, Anna Paquin.

Written by David Benioff (Based on his book)

Directed by Spike Lee

Genre: Drama

Released: 2002

Running time: 135 minutes.

Rated: R (American rating for Strong Language and Violence).

IMDb link: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0307901/

I have no idea how much attention this movie got in the States, but
here in my native Australia it was all but ignored. I think the most I
saw about it when it was in theatres was a single review in the street
press. This baffles me, because it's one of the best movies I've ever
seen. Of course, it's no secret amongst my friends that I have a big
ol' non-sexual man-crush on Edward Norton (and a big ol' crush on
Rosario Dawson, minus the ‘non-sexual' and ‘man' aspects of the other
infatuation), but that has very little to do with this. 25th Hour is
just an amazing movie.

All you need to know that it's going to
be intense is the one sentence premise of the film: a man who's been
sentenced to seven years in jail for drug trafficking spends his last
twenty-four hours of freedom with his friends and family, all the while
re-evaluating his life and the choices that led him to his current

I mean, damn. You have to admit, that sounds like
some heady stuff. But then you throw something else into the mix,
namely, that this was the first major film made in New York after the
events of September 11. And suddenly, in addition to the human drama
you have powering the story, you also have this underlying issue of a
city struggling to come to grips with this new world they've been very
suddenly and violently thrown into.

All the acting is superb,
but what do you expect when you've assembled a cast of such calibre and
given them such powerful material to work with? The movie consists of
one fantastic scene after another, with a monologue delivered by Norton
into a bathroom mirror being a particularly awe-inspiring moment.

Lee is a director I can take or leave. For every magnificent film he
gives us, he delivers something else like Crooklyn or Girl 6, movies
that start off promisingly but wind up as being fairly forgettable. Not
so here - Lee constructs his story expertly, creating a dark, sombre
tone with very real moments of humour, and he interweaves the story of
Norton's character Monty Brogan with images and ruminations about
September 11's aftermath with absolute skill.

When writing
this column, I'm oft concerned about exactly how much I should ‘rave'
about a film. Of course, the entire point of this column is to rave
about movies I think deserve it, but if you build something up too
heavily in someone's mind, they'll often come away feeling a little let
down by what they see.

With 25th Hour that concern is of
course there, but of all the films I've taken a look at so far, this is
the one that I'm most confident can be seen by pretty much anyone and
recognized as the great film that it is.

Next time: A new column! I promise!