The Spanish Prisoner
Time Out saysOn a Caribbean trip to discuss his as yet secret, invaluable new 'process' with his boss Klein (Gazzara), whizz kid Joe Ross (Scott) has a strange, faintly aggressive encounter with rich sophisticate Jimmy Dell (Martin), who apologises by inviting Joe to dine with him and his sister back in New York. Though Susan (Pidgeon), a new, evidently adoring secretary at the company, tells Joe of her suspicions about the invite, he goes along and ends up agreeing to meet a lawyer Dell recommends in an effort to allay his fears about Klein ripping him off (suspicions which, ironically, Susan also entertains). Is she jealous? Just cautious? Or should Joe share her paranoia? You bet. Far from being the answer to Joe's dreams of fame and fortune, that Caribbean trip was the start of a nightmare. David Mamet's most consistently enjoyable film to date is a cool, typically clever con-trick drama packed with deliciously inventive twists that get ever more convoluted and unnerving as the plot proceeds. Where this particular scam saga succeeds over Mamet's earlier efforts is in the acting: Scott's stiff, slightly nerdy but just about sympathetic turn as Joe is characteristically subtle, Martin's oddly still, reptilian creepiness has never been used so well, and Pidgeon, Gazzara and Jay (as Joe's pal George) all lend impressive support.