PACINO,PAUL GUILFOYLE,JOSEPH MAHER
ON THE PLAY BY HEATHCOTE WILLIAMS
BY HEATHCOTE WILLIAMS
BY MICHAEL HADGE & AL PACINO
BY DAVID F. WHELLER
on the one act play by anarchist playwright Heathcote Williams, The
Local Stigmatic stars Al Pacino and Paul Guilfoyle as Graham and
Ray, two working class nihilists who spend the day talking about a
bad betting tip Graham lost money on while at the dog track, and the
celebrities who fill the gossip magazines Graham loves to read. When
both men spot a popular actor (Joseph Maher) in their local pub they
decide to strike up a conversation, and then proceed to brutally beat
him out of contempt for his popularity.
Conceived and filmed during Pacino's movie hiatus (between 1985-1989),
Pacino toiled with The Local Stigmatic for over a decade releasing
it in limited spurts during various junctions, and it is easy to see
why. It is -at its core - an acting exercise caught on film, a document
for actors to study and analyse and not at all for mainstream release.
While kudos should be given to Pacino and co-star Paul Guilfoyle over
the hard work given to their performances (which included years of
research and several months of rehearsal), there are a number of elements
going against it which cuts the movie down to its knees. The most
pressing is the fact that while Pacino and Guilfoyle are fine actors,
neither can master an English accent. Pacino's attempt at cockney
English in particular can get pretty hairy, his smoky Brooklyn accent
seeping through the long stretches of dialogue shared between the
two characters. It would have been much suited to all involved if
the play was adapted to the streets of New York than that of London
(or what I presume to be London since it does not mention where the
movie is based.) That way the material would have played to the actors'
strengths instead of their weaknesses.
That being said Pacino and Guilfoyle do play an intimidating duo.
Both of their characters harbour obvious sadistic tendencies. While
grilling their unsuspecting victims, both men have a role to play;
Graham loves to talk it up while Ray plays the muscle, staring at
his prey with cold eyes and delivering devastating blows at the behest
of Graham. Their obvious affection towards each other left me guessing
if they were lovers, but I have a feeling what they share is a strong
spiritual connection rather than a physical one.
Running a little over 50 min, The Local Stigmatic may be short
in length but its heavy content and overbearing performances left
me drained at its conclusion. Some plays are not meant for the screen,
and this play in particular just does not work no matter how interesting
the subject matter nor how fascinating the screenplay.