SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL?
March 4, 2011
Saw The Devil’s Advocate for the third time the other night.
No one in film has so dissected and anatomized diabolical corpi with more dedication and precision than Al Pacino.
Not even the combined forces of Martin Scorcese and the chilling characters he created with Robert DeNiro can come up with the living, breathing reality of what Pacino only began to discover with his Michael Corleone of The Godfather.
Prophetically and, I imagine, presciently, I initially spelled Godfather as Todfather.
Yes. The Deathfather!
That rather says it all.
Three film titles initially leap to my mind when I think of Al Pacino’s entire body of work: The Godfather (1972), Devil’s Advocate (1997), and Insomnia (2002).
Pacino’s greatest performance to my mind can be experienced with the film Insomnia, and his portrayal of the LAPD detective, Will Dormer, an indelibly scarred soul farmed out to Alaska. He finds himself in, of all places, Alaska. A town called Nightmute.
Perhaps that is the author’s version “Nightmare” in the language of First Nations.
“Will Dormer” is there to possibly keep himself far away from the limelight of an Internal Affairs investigation back in L.A.
This obvious hero of the LAPD may have cut a few too many corners in a murder case on his home turf.
Why is Will Dormer my favorite Pacino performance?
It is this born performer’s genius filled to the brim with the miracle of normal humanity.
Though evil is an ocean this great actor swims in as if it were his own bubbling Jacuzzi, I always waited for him to come down to earth and play a simple human being.
He carries such a portrayal to divine heights with his “Will Dormer.”
The great excitement in the film is that he is paired with another, specifically comic genius, Robin Williams, who is equally given to a Shakespearean range of theater games.
Both of these volcanoes play the most divinely impressive game of who can out-underplay the other. With explosive possibilities rumbling within the Pacino/Williams Showdown, what we’re invited to watch are two extraordinary artists laying out the mysteries of two seemingly normal but tragically flawed men.
The hero of Insomnia, as always with great drama, is the Truth.
Pacino and Williams wallow divinely in the dual dances of death they perform to escape the truths of their own lives.
Aren’t all of us, in some small or large way, doing that? Until we, like Al Pacino’s role, heroically face the truths of our life, and balance the scales of justice before we die.
Insomnia is a great film with two exceptionally sacred performances.
We’re dealing with Good and Evil; and on the most disturbingly personal level.
Insomnia is, therefore, a sacred dance of death.
The dance of good and evil within Al Pacino’s life as the Boswell of Evil, however, has its greatest metaphor in that capital of The Devil’s Advocate: New York City.
More specifically Manhattan.
Central Park and the upper East Side.
What a film is The Devil’s Advocate!
As a former cave dweller in Manhattan, it is hard to know where to begin in praise of this achievement.
The Devil’s Advocate lays bare the central disease that has not only plagued New York but now engulfs all of America: hypocrisy.
The land of the “inalienable right to life” has legalized abortion for 38 years, and, in my opinion, Roe v. Wade is the most diabolical of American hypocrisies. It is akin to the Supreme Court’s legitimized slavery with the Dred Scott decision.
No one and nothing can so expose hypocrisy with more precision than Lucifer himself.
Caught staring in the headlights of their own self-delusion, one “sheep” within The Devil’s Advocate after another falls to the insatiably smiling fangs of Al Pacino’s “wolf.”
Holy airs surround the family of our central figure, Kevin Lomax, performed by Keanu Reeves as a younger version of Arthur Miller’s Willy Lomax in Death of a Salesman.
Lambs led to slaughter?
As the Devil of Al Pacino might gloat, “They danced there of their own free will!”
I danced to such slaughter until I met Janet Reno in the backroom of a Washington D.C. hotel. The sulfur rising from our chicken dinners was prophetically tyrannical. It was a preview of the enlightened despotism to be found in the Progressively Marxist New World Order of the Obama Nation. Such sulfur literally pores out of Joe Bidon’s pro-abortion Catholicism as his high-speed train pummels us more firmly into debt.
Diabolical delusions of grandeur which carry Cairo, Egypt, and Madison, Wisconsin into civil unrest that presage the anarchism of hell.
Al Pacino’s prophetically named character, John Milton, 17th Century author of Paradise Lost, eventually sees his own, infernal heaven on earth destroyed by his son’s suicide. His progeny’s complete rejection of Satan’s rule on earth.
Of course, such a finale would be too generously sentimental.
At the end?
There is Al Pacino’s bad boy smile assuring us that The Devil’s Advocate is only Act One.
All of America is now in the third act of a five act, Shakespearean saga easily the equal of Richard III, Macbeth, Titus Andronicus, and King Lear combined!
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Where is the hero Henry V?!
Ironically posing as Falstaff or a Latter Day Bible’s David and Goliath of New Jersey.
Meanwhile, Al Pacino can smile within a certain, very Catholic state of grace.
No actor has followed the call of a very Jesuitical vocation in the theater more profoundly than Al Pacino.
He is film acting’s C.S. Lewis: fiction’s version of The Devil’s Boswell.
© 2011 - Michael Moriarty - All Rights Reserved