State and Main (2005) Alec Baldwin, Charles Durning, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy Movie Review

State and Main (2005)   4/54/54/54/54/5

William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin and Philip Seymour Hoffman in State and Main (2005)

Amusing in the Main

After things didn't work out at their original planned shooting location director Walt Price (William H. Macy) and his crew scout out Waterford for their movie "The Old Mill". As crew and cast, including the star Bob Barrenger (Alec Baldwin) and female lead Claire Wellesley (Sarah Jessica Parker), descend on the small town things don't go smoothly. Between the mill having burned down in the 60s to the star's penchant for teenage girls whilst the locals not so easy to railroad as they expect it is a turbulent production.

"State and Main" is the equivalent of a great singer singing the phonebook as in 90% of this movie is about the performances of the cast, their snappy, naturalistic delivery of witty dialogue. It is almost the sort of movie where the characters don't really talk to each other but each actor is so drilled that they deliver their lines perfectly and then the editors beautifully bring it together so there is real snap and timing to everything. And it is entertaining as it seems every line has a touch of comedy to it as every response seems to have a touch of sardonic wit going on.

Julia Stiles in State and Main (2005)

The thing is that whilst "State and Main" is 90% about the way each actor delivers their characters and the wit of the writing the other 10% with this glimpse of a movie production in a small town is just as entertaining. You have the pleasant friendship which forms between the writer and the local bookshop owner, you have a teenage waitress who knows about the stars penchant for teenage girls, you have the crew trying to turn the town in to what they want. You truly get a sense that writer and director David Mamet has created "State and Main" from all his experiences over the years in the industry and all these events and the characters make you smile as they are all a unique and diverse bunch.

The thing about "State and Main" is that never does it feel like a movie which has a story, as in a beginning, middle and end. Instead what it feels like is an eclectic bunch of characters and an amusing collection of incidents and it works. The bonus of this is that "State and Main" is one of those movies which you can watch for 20 minutes, even just 10 and end up being entertained by something but not feel like you need to watch the rest.

What this all boils down to is that "State and Main" is a lot of fun with lots of witty lines, funny incidents and entertaining performances from actors who fire of Mamet's writing with great skill. Is it a classic? No, but it has plenty going on to entertain you in one way or another.