People I Know (2003)
A powerful behind-the-scenes man in politics and show business finds himself skidding into a very public scandal in this taut drama. Eli Wurman (Al Pacino) was raised in the deep South, attended Harvard Law School, and has devoted his spare time to progressive political causes since working alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. However, Wurman now makes his living as a press agent and PR man, and while he's near the top of his profession, years of overwork, constant smoking and drinking, and ceaseless tension are taking their toll, leaving him on the verge of collapse, with only the prescriptions of his friend Dr. Napier (Robert Klein) keeping him on his feet. One of Wurman's biggest clients is Cary Launer (Ryan O'Neal), a fading film star with political aspirations who, after attending a disastrous Broadway opening, asks Wurman to do him a big favor -- bail Launer's girlfriend, Jilli (Téa Leoni), out of jail and keep an eye on her. Wurman manages to get Jilli out of the stir, but she insists upon being escorted to an exclusive sex and opium den for a night of heavy drinking and drugging, and then reveals to Wurman that she owns a device which she's used to record footage of the most public figures who attend the club, including Elliott Sharansky, a billionaire Jewish civic leader (Richard Schiff). That night, a half out-of-it Eli accompanies Jilli back to her hotel room when an intruder barges in and forces an overdose on her, killing her instantly. The next morning, Wurman has only fuzzy memories of what transpired. He decides to focus on his attempts to set up a political fundraiser, but has a hard time getting the right A-list celebs to appear, just as many of New York's power brokers aren't especially interesting in working with Wurman or Launer. In the midst of this chaos, Victoria (Kim Basinger), who was married to Wurman's late brother, arrives in New York and urges him to leave the city and his career behind while he still can. People I Know was screened in competition at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for People I Know
The movie is weighted down with an excess of plot points that fail to coalesce.
Dropped into this ocean of bathos, even Al can't tread water -- at that precise moment, he and his performance drown.
Trashy and lurid as this movie is, it's certainly not boring, and it keeps its star in hog heaven throughout.
Al Pacino gives a career-crowning performance under Dan Algrant's perceptive direction.
Miscast and badly thought out, People I Know needed more -- and less -- than it got.
[Starts] off like a B-version of Sweet Smell of Success before ending like a C-version of The Parallax View.
After watching this depressing film, I felt as tired as Al Pacino's character looked.
Pacino unleashes every trick in his actor's bag... The accent alone batters us into the back of the theater, making us want to go home.
Eli is a modern-day version of a tainted weakling who has sold his soul to the devil, but would like to rent it back from time to time.
O filme, que mostra uma Nova York onde o poder é exercido de forma opressiva e cujas noites escondem festas dignas de De Olhos Bem Fechados, traz Pacino em uma das melhores atuações de sua carreira.
At one point, a character kids Eli about being 'moth-eaten,' but the term would be better applied to the film's crippling third act.
People I Know rests not at the bottom of that pile, not at the top, but just out of range of significance, to be forgotten the minute the audience's back is turned.
Pacino is so determined, so fiercely wrecked, that you almost don't notice when the film dissolves into a cheesy conspiracy piece -- almost.
It might have worked better if they could've convinced Pacino to drop that damn accent, in which the game of Ping-Pong is apparently pronounced 'pang-pawng.'
Smushes together The Bonfire of the Vanities (the novel, that is), True Believer, and Eyes Wide Shut, only it does so without being nearly as good as any of the aforementioned.
Rich in accrued, non-flashy detail and character potentiality, People I Know charts the lives of some vivid, interesting people. Narratively, though, it bites off more than it can comfortably chew.
Audience Reviews for People I Know
Though the films themselves stylistically are completely different, the basic plots of "People I Know" and "Carlito's Way" are the same. Here, rather than a gangster, Pacino plays a burnt-out publicist eager to escape his shady way of life but, like Carlito, doomed never to do so. The story doesn't ever really get going but the acting is an absolute treat, with Pacino giving an immaculate performance, truly one of his finest ever.More
Man, didn't have high hopes for this movie which was a good thing. This is one of the lesser known Pacino movies and for a good reason; it wasn't any good. Pacino did some okay acting, nice to see him play the old helpless role, but nothing really to see here, from anyone.More
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