Sunday, August 7, 2011

Man With No Place

D.W. Dillon
Las Vegas, NV

"The Man With No Place"

Directed by Mike Figgis
Written by Henry Bean
Music by Mike Figgis
Produced by Mike Figgis and Annie Stewart

Principal Cast:
Hugh Laurie as Eamon Francis
Ziyi Zhang as Yen Sun
James Gandolfini as Josiah Lean
Malcolm McDowell as Winthrop Dunmore
Russell Sams as Dunmore's Messenger

Tagline: "It's never too late to find yourself."

Synopsis: Eamon Francis (Hugh Laurie), proprietor of the Clockwork Pub on the lower east side of Manhattan was an inscrutable sort. Though he offered no more to his patrons than obvious advice and a shot to hold onto. They didn't know his past; the loss of his wife, or the ulcers that plagued him. They didn't even know of his highly acclaimed poetry. Though one maybe hard pressed to find it published anywhere of note. Those ten-cent Streetwise newspapers you see a bum peddling in alleyways is your best bet. Eamon's obscurity didn't go unnoticed, much to his annoyance. Winthrop Dumore (Malcolm McDowell) of the Academy of Arts & Letters had tried many of times to lure him into notoriety, but was always met with much resistence. Eamon's temper was more documented than his poetry. On one occasion Dunmore sent a messenger (Russell Sams) to offer him an invitation to recieve the 1963 Golden Medal honor given out every six years to the poet with the most distingueshed body of work. Even at his most temperamate, Eamon's sense of humor rivaled most, as the smarmy messenger left with his own golden award. For Eamon, it was jail-time well spent. Bailed out abruptly as always by his number one fan. The newspaper mogul, Josiah Lean (James Gandolfini) who was as close as anyone could get to the bitter, untamed poet. Lean was big and thought big, wanting only the best. He admired the likes of Eamon Francis. With him, Lean felt authentic and lived somewhat vicariously through his talent and recklessness. Ever persistent, at times pushy, he offered sincerity, which many say was the reason Eamon tolerated his intrusion.

Eamon's secluded lifestyle had shunned almost everyone. That is until one cold day in 1964. After closing down the pub early, due to his lingering stomach ulcer, he walked into his flat to find a beautiful naked woman (Ziyi Zhang). She acted as if she had lived there with him his whole life. Their first meeting was an unconventional display of muted interaction. Was she a stalker, he thought? It didn't matter. She said nothing, so Eamon accepted her graces which consisted of a foot bath and a massage. And for the next three nights his evening was spent in her silent company of pleasure and love.

The odd occurrence had changed him. Eamon was a bit more kind and social, which is why Dunmore was finally held to his esteem. While he didn't accept his award, he did agree to publication. Much to his friend Lean's disappointment, he insisted on treating his poet friend to a celebratory dinner. There, Eamon would see a ghost. Lean's wife Yen Sun greeted Eamon as if she had never invaded his life. But she had. The tension fueled dinner at the Lean mansion cut like a knife. Lean was bitter, Yen Sun nervous, and Eamon displaced. Later that night, she would run away from her tormentor for the last time and find herself at Eamon's doorstep. Her bruises showed like battle scars. Lean was a man of dominance and demanded her servitude as if she lived in times of her great ancestors, where the wives gave up their freedom. Eamon didn't want to care about her, but she lived as he felt; a slave to the world of selfish tyrants. His rage boiled and he would run to his door, ready for war, only opening it to see his friend, who was there merely asking for help to find his lost wife. But there he saw her and Eamon. The next thing he offered Eamon was not a blank check to publish his poetry or bail money, but a walking stick to the stomach. Repeated thuds were heard throughout the building and then a CRASH.

Yen Sun catered to the ailing poet. Wiping away the coughed up blood. She nursed that night and held him into the morning. The bloody lifeless body of her nightmare still lay at the front door. She held Eamon's hand where he laid as he began to recite the poetry locked his head for years. Poetry not about the greedy and seedy world of thugs, whores and liars. but about his previous wife losing her life to her families' beliefs by refusing modern medicine and about two new lovers connecting amongst the screams of sadness to happiness. About a man who had found his place.

What the Press Will Say?: "Your idols from space, your titles are waste, watch her bleed in pain"

Hugh Laurie plays an eccentric poet laureate/bartender in 1960's New York, and in this scene recites his poetry in his head while serving two suspecting Scientologist's in director Mike Figgis' latest film, "The Man With No Place". The narrative-poetry is the center of a story that follows a man in limbo and his rise from obscurity. A brutally honest and delicately structured film that ascends from scene to scene. One of the terrific achievements in the movie is the way Hugh Laurie as Eamon Francis is able to refrain himself from manic outbursts in public, while the audience clearly hears what goes on in his head with his poetry. He's about to burst and instead we are treated to a sarcastic yet restrained confrontation here...

"What could I possibly use a Gold Medal for? A coaster, perhaps?"
"Mr. Francis, this is a highly acclaimed award and..."
"...and you insult me with your white company shoes, which look better as a toilet."

His rage, while contained is still shocking, yet understandable as we learn about his past hardships that have made him. He's not short of redeeming qualities and is quite humorous as shown here in an encounter with a beautiful pseudo-stalker played by Ziyi Zhang.

"You are by far the most beautiful nude stalker I've ever come home to..."

Ziyi Zhang turns out to be the abused-obedient wife of Hugh Laurie's number one fan, played by James Gandolfini as the admiring newspaper mogul looking to publish his works. The love tryst enters uncharted waters when Laurie finds out who his stalker really is. Regardless, she breaks through his armor and he lets go of his past. The sadness in the movie lies in his torn past from losing his wife and her hurt present as a slave-wife which are so apparent, that their love comes with a price.

"In many ways I love him. He brought me to you. His infatuation with your words made our love possible."
"But how can you love a slave owner?"
"We're all slaves, no Eamon?"

Their love is equivalent to freedom and Henry Bean's touching screenplay answers all the right questions in a complicated relationship that is relevant to today's standards. Mike Figgis, director of such gritty dramas as Internal Affairs and Leaving Las Vegas sets his characters apart only to bring them together in a touching finale that is both remarkable and memorable.

Best Picture
Best Director - Mike Figgis
Best Actor - Hugh Laurie
Best Actress - Ziyi Zhang
Best Supporting Actor - James Gandolfini
Best Original Screenplay - Henry Bean

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