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The 25th Hour

Can you change your whole life in a day? 

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Monty Brogan (Norton) is a drug dealer who has finally been caught out by the authorities.  He has one last day of freedom before he is to begin a seven-year jail sentence, and he needs to make a choice. Should he go to jail as dictated by the courts, or should he seize his last day of freedom, and use it to make a new life for himself?

Helping him come to terms with his fate - as much as is possible - are his two childhood best friends, Frank (Barry Pepper) and Jacob (Philip Seymour Hoffman), his girlfriend Naturelle (Rosario Dawson), and his father (Brian Cox), all of whom are struggling just as much as Monty to deal with the realities of his situation.

Director Spike Lee has crafted a film full of sorrow and loss that resonates particularly with real life events - Frank, a financial trader, lives in an apartment overlooking the wreckage created by the events of September 11th, and Monty’s father owns a bar that was frequented by firemen lost during the tragedy - and while the film is often beautifully shot, it is at times terrifyingly brutal.

The performances are outstanding, and Lee’s decision to dedicate significant amounts of screen time to the supporting characters is a testament to the work of the ensemble cast, who only serve to heighten the intensity of the film’s main storyline. Norton is, as always, brilliantly convincing in his role, and Hoffman is as elegant as ever, portraying Jacob with particular sympathy. Rosario Dawson is simultaneously strong and vulnerable, while Barry Pepper is surprisingly effective, and the ubiquitous Brian Cox lends an air of gravitas to a film that, given its cast and director, could have threatened to be nothing more than an achingly hip New York travelogue.

This is by no means an easy film to watch, and certain sequences - such as Monty’s verbal attack on every section of New York society and the final favour he asks of his friend Frank - are particularly harrowing in their own ways. But it is a brave, interesting, and ultimately rewarding film.

Laura Watson

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Autumn Term (35mm)
2003/2004 Autumn Term (35mm)