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On the eve before a young man goes away to prison, he has nothing left to do except think,reflect, and say goodbye.
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Norton plays Monty Brogan, a man who is the toast of New York City. He has money, great friends, notoriety, and of course his lovable dog Doyle. All of this was snatched away from him in an instant when he got arrested for drug possession with the intent to traffic. It is now the day before Monty is about to go away for at least seven years he is in for one last night with friends and family.
Monty Spends a great deal of time taking in the New York Landscape and he thinks back to a few key moments in his life of recent memory. He thinks back to his first encounter with Naturelle his girlfriend, his initial arrest, and his encounter with Doyle.
He visits his friend Jacob (Hoffman) at his old school and talks to him about the party. His Russian muscle Kostya pays him a visit to plant it in his head that his girlfriend was the one who set him up to get arrested. In spite of his gut instinct he buys into it a little and he is filled with doubt and doesn't know who to trust. He makes his way down to Brooklyn to see his father. He blames himself, and the two have a less than reassuring talk.
It it time to party, and no one knows how to act, or why are they even having a party. They always think it will be the last time they see each other. While Jake and Frank (Pepper) are dealing with their emotions and their personal opinions to Monty and Nat, Monty goes in search of his answers. He has a last meeting with the Russians and it didn't turn out how he thought it would. Then again as this movie shows us nothing really does turn out how we thought.
This film is my favorite of all time, as well as my favorite Spike film. Norton was fantastic and very under rated, he was powerful, intense and was really the driving force of the film. For Norton's character prison may as well have been like dying. Norton went through the five stages almost seamlessly. I really felt for him and was moved at the end of the film. It was a truly brilliant performance. Hoffman was his usual solid self, he was funny but in more of an awkward way. He is always great in everything he does and this was no exception.
A real shining star of this film was Barry Pepper. For a good two thirds of the movie he acts like a big talking hot shot who knows everything and runs the show. He is cocky and pompous, but buy the end of the film he is left a big balling mess of a man. He is filled with doubts, concerns, fears and remorse, a complete 180 from the start of the film. Although he was only in three scenes Bryan Cox really stole the end of the movie. His monologue was brilliant.
As for Spike, he told a great story, and it wasn't his script which is unusual for him. Also adapting a book is a first for him and he really did it justice. This film marks another rarity for Spike, it is one of the few times he has worked with a predominantly white cast. Spike also painted New York a little differently, and it really worked. It was also one of the first films tor really touch on 9/11 from a common individual's perspective. There is really not one cylinder that's not firing, an all around amazing film.