It’s not surprising that there’re a spate of Hollywood films centered on the movie industry itself – kinda like if there was a concept album about the creation of an album detailing the recording process and the financial issues surrounding the release of a disc. Hollywood, as much as music honchos, are of the opinion that whatever comprises the day to day operations of a film crew is interesting enough to levy upon the viewing public.
The Player was alright, at best. And while Waiting for Guffman wasn’t specifically about Hollywood, it did get into the celebrity of Broadway – almost the same thing.
As a part of this ballooning genre, David Mamet wrote a screenplay which was eventually released as State and Main all the way back in the year 2000. The film won a few awards, casting being strong suite. But in the effort’s reception, it seems that the feature wasn’t granted the level of notoriety such an release warrants.
Sporting Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a playwright turned script writer – perhaps entertaining the some of the same problems as the main character in the Coen Brothers’ Barton Fink – State and Main purports to detail problematic location wrangling at its most shambolic.
Focused on the making of a fictitious film called The Old Mill, pretty early on, it becomes clear that the main order of business is to complete a movie within a predetermined budget. And anything that can help, legal or not, is welcomed.
Soon, it becomes clear that a major re-write is necessary. There’s no old mill in the town where production is set to commence. This little caveat, obviously, presents problems to the Hoffman character, who unwittingly steals an engaged women away from a local politician and enlists her to help out on the re-write.
The relationship is rife with trouble, including this townie walking in on Hoffman as he’s entertaining a nude actress. But the fact that Hollywood life doesn’t jive perfectly with small town sensibilities is understandable. The brief run through legal wrangling in which statutory rape is claimed proves that pretty easily.
Jumping between these disparate problems, though, doesn’t allow for a grand plot to be inserted. Yeah, the completion of the film functions that way. But that doesn’t really leave one on the edge of one’s seat/couch/whatever.
State and Main’s cast, though, is strong enough to overcome any scant criticism – and strong enough to be way more entertaining than The Player.