State and Main is the new comedy from David Mamet. Mamet's dialog has
become like an old friend to me. If you've seen The Spanish Prisoner,
Homicide, or House of Games, you will instantly recognize the rhythm of
his words that are always referred to by critics as "staccato." In the
opening moments of State and Main, I eased back in my chair and just
enjoyed that rhythm.
Not all actors can read Mamet dialog. So, he tends to hire a lot of the
same people. These actors are also like old friends: William H. Macey
(Homicide, Oleanna), Rebecca Pidgeon (Homicide, The Spanish Prisoner, The
Winslow Boy) and Alec Baldwin (whose one scene in Glengarry Glen Ross is
nothing short of a perfect marriage of acting and writing).
State and Main is a movie about the making of a movie in what can only be
described as a quaint, small town. Macey plays the director. His character
would be pure evil, except that the producer (David Paymer) makes him look
almost kind. Macey has some great lines. When a member of the crew calls
him a liar, he says, "No, I just have a gift for fiction."
The busy character actor Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the writer. He falls
for a local girl played by Rebecca Pidgeon. And, I have to say, State and
Main really becomes Pidgeon's movie. She absolutely jumps off the screen
with charisma. Pidgeon would definitely be one of those people I would
pick in those theoretical "who would you invite to dinner" games.
The conflict of the film involves the lead actor (Alec Baldwin) and his
fling with a young girl (Julia Stiles). Even though Stiles initiates the
affair, Baldwin has a history of scandalous relationships. When confronted
about his penchant for teenagers, he replies, "Everybody's gotta have a
But, the plot is inconsequential to the success of State and Main. You'll
remember Macey and Pidgeon. You'll also feel like you got a little bit of
the Hollywood "inside scoop." Let's just say that I'll never look at an
Associate Producer credit the same again.