State And Main

2000, Movie, R, 102 mins


This witty, low-key comedy about what happens when a Hollywood production team descends on the sleepy town of Waterford, VT, finds David Mamet in an uncharacteristically mellow mood. The Old Mill, a historical drama penned by naïve playwright Joseph Turner White (Philip Seymour Hoffman) already has a troubled production history, having been run out of its previous location in New Hampshire after lecherous star Bob Barrenger (Alec Baldwin) put the moves on an underage local girl. Now White has to start rewriting to accommodate the fact that Waterford doesn't have an old mill, and having already built one on the abandoned location, there's no money to construct another. Director Walt Price (William H. Macy) is busy catering to his temperamental stars — especially starlet Claire Wellesley (Sarah Jessica Parker), who's suddenly refusing to do her nude scene — and producer Marty Rossen (David Paymer) is fretting about the budget. The good people of Waterford are having their heads turned by all this Hollywood glamour in their midst — the mayor's (Charles Durning) snobbish wife (Patti LuPone) is obsessed with planning a swanky soiree for the visitors, and level-headed Ann (Rebecca Pidgeon) must cancel the play she's directing because the town's amateur thespians all want to be a movie extras. But she doesn't really mind; in her own practical way, she's fallen for White, much to the dismay of her fiance (Clark Gregg), an ambitious local politician. The trouble really starts after Barrenger has an automobile accident at the corner of State and Main Streets, taking out the town's new crossing light. That's not the bad part, though. The bad part is that there was a star-struck teenager (Julia Stiles) in the car with him. Mamet's jabs at Tinseltown's silken ruthlessness are quietly pointed, and the ensemble cast — even the brittle and sometimes annoying Pidgeon (Mamet's wife) — is brilliant. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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