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Its top-shelf script and terrific cast ensure that it's always watchable, but Phil Spector fails to provide truly compelling drama.
All Critics (38)
| Top Critics (19)
| Fresh (19)
| Rotten (19)
Even with a Mamet screenplay and actors like Mr. Pacino and Ms. Mirren there is not much anyone can do to make the audience care.
It's better than most films of its kind, even as it remains unsatisfying as historical re-creation, philosophical meditation or pure drama.
Pacino and Mirren's teamwork keeps Phil Spector watchable even when it's dousing itself in dramatic ethanol and lighting a match.
The film is an engrossing drama, with a dazzling performance by Al Pacino in the title role.
It's an insidious whitewash of a convicted killer and an infamous smear of his victim. It's a shame on all involved.
A frustrating film that leaves the questions -- pretty much all of them -- unanswered.
Spector is almost the platonic ideal of the crazy showbiz madman. He makes a great fit for Pacino, who has for once found a character so charismatically odd that he doesn't need to overact to keep himself interested.
Mamet's film isn't sure what the hell to make of Spector. But, strangely, that's part of what makes it so compelling.
The movie broadens from Spector's legal case into larger explorations of prejudices people can harbor about celebrities and eccentrics. The result is a thoughtful, sometimes fascinating, purposefully inconclusive character study.
Pacino seldom fails to cut straight to the soul of a character who is both brilliant and pathetic.
As we're treated to another nonsensical, repetitive soliloquy about the victimization of a violent millionaire, it's worth noting that the Wall of Sound required an echo chamber.
Both actors are great and Mamet's gift with dialogue remains intact but the plotting and choice of storytelling in Phil Spector makes for a final product that doesn't make enough of a statement or tell us much about its title subject.
Mamet's central thesis about the importance of impartiality in the legal system is not without merit, however centering his argument around Phil Spector was a gross miscalculation especially since his exploration fictionalizes some of the facts of the case. This only undermines his argument and exposes him as something of a hypocrite.
A TV movie that probably would have worked better as a straight play and that's hardly surprising with Mamet involved in the scripting and directing. Mirren is very good and Pacino is....well, Pacino! His acting is excellent but he never convinces as Phil Spector. The overall film is probably too sympathetic to Spector and has no regard for the victim so the whole thing needs to be taken with a pinch of salt and the fact that it finishes before the trial reaches a verdict is annoying but it is still entertaining viewing.
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