An office full of salesmen are put under pressure when a tough outsider (Alec Baldwin) is brought in to get them selling again. When they are told to sell or lose their jobs they grow disgruntled with their weak-willed office manager John’s (Kevin Spacey) new resolve. Ageing Shelley “The Machine” Levene attempts to make a sale; Dave and George (Ed Harris and Alan Arkin) speculate about what would happen if someone were to break into the office; and Ricky (Al Pacino) tries to win a Cadillac.
Originally a stage play, the majority of this film takes place in one room and gorges on watching this all-star cast bounce off each other. Pacino makes a late entry but predictably steals the show with his charismatic performance.
It demonstrates excellently the difference in behaviour between when these men are selling to a customer to when they’re alone in the office. To customers they are agreeable if pushy, and endlessly positive, then as soon as they are out the door they shout and swear at each other, in stiff competition for their jobs. This allows for some fantastically creative swearing, usually directed at Kevin Spacey’s out-of-his-depth office manager.
The way the characters have to make money by hard-selling to reluctant customers is shown best by Ricky’s attempt to dupe a customer into out-waiting his legally-mandated three day cool-off period. Making money off the regrets and misery of others reminded me of Up In The Air, where George Clooney plays a professional firer. He travels the country to fire people so bosses don’t have to. Both show the unpleasant side of the cut throat world of business and manage to be darkly funny at the same time.
As a piece of satire, Glengarry Glen Ross is fantastic, with its well crafted screenplay which makes brilliant use of its stellar cast. It’s a must watch film, and I’m not even getting commission for saying that.