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PEOPLE I KNOW

A scrounging, disillusioned, bone-weary Manhattan publicist who is supposed to watch over a trouble-making starlet wakes from a stupor just in time to see her being murdered.


CAST: Al Pacino, Kim Basinger, Ryan O’Neal, Tea Leoni, Richard Schiff, Bill Nunn, Robert Klein, Mark Webber

DIRECTOR: Dan Algrant

"Eli is the latest flaming creature to be posted in Mr. Pacino's vivid gallery of driven, bleary-eyed maniacs operating in a twilight zone of harried agitation where terminal exhaustion threatens to tumble into madness…Mr. Pacino's performance is the spark plug driving a movie — directed by Dan Algrant from a screenplay by the gifted New York playwright Jon Robin Baitz — that never catches up with its star…When not facetiously dropping names, the movie lumbers between a clichéd bleeding-heart fable of lost 60's dreams and a half-baked thriller in which nasty people in high places try to cover up a murder. Any one of those concepts might have worked on its own, but forced together, they don't allow one another to breathe…In glibly evoking heroes like Kennedy and King, the movie succumbs to the same mindless name-dropping it purports to decry." --Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"If you’re a connoisseur of Al Pacino at his most flagrant, look no further than ‘People I Know.’ Even when measured against the high standards of ham set by him in recent films like ‘The Recruit’ and ‘Simone,’ it’s quite a display…Trashy and lurid as this movie is, it’s certainly not boring, and it keeps its star in hog heaven throughout…None of this sob-story stuff is remotely believable, but as an expression of a prevailing strain of New York showbiz sentimentality, it’s gruesomely accurate. For the community it represents, it’s a double whammy: You get to celebrate both the saint that you were and the corrupt shithead you’ve become." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"Pacino is the dynamo that drives it, giving a relentlessly imaginative performance that draws on all the professional expertise and personal experience he's gathered in a lifetime of screen and stage work…More surprising yet is the supporting cast. It's headed by Ryan O'Neal, who's having even more of a comeback than Pacino this year, via his fine work here and in ‘Malibu's Most Wanted,’ where he also plays a rich guy with political stars in his eyes. Right behind him are Kim Basinger as Eli's confidante, Robert Klein as his befuddled physician, and Bill Nunn as an African-American leader who's no more idealistic than the other egomaniacs in the plot." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"Pacino gives an explosive performance, but it's not a new one. He looks even sleepier than he did in ‘Insomnia’ (which he made a few months later), as well as haunted, sunken, weary… ‘People I Know’ is also a victim of bad timing in its backdrop of a New York ruled by a reviled mayor, not the heroic Rudy Giuliani we knew after 9/11, but the one who was previously labeled a fascist intent on robbing the city of its messy, feral pleasures…Pacino is a Vesuvius in a town that has had enough eruptions, disruptions and catastrophe, thank you." --Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News

"It's not often that you see talented, well-meaning people joined together like cultists in the snare of a group delusion, but that's what makes this film fascinating, the proverbial accident you can't take your eyes off. In truth, ‘People I Know’ is so earnest, so would-be meaningful, so insistent in its search for life's deeper truths, that one hesitates to chastise it just as one would hesitate to wake a sleepwalker…It takes us through a hellacious 24 hours in the life of high-powered publicist Eli Wurman, a collection of clichés played by Al Pacino like, well, a collection of clichés… none of the actors is much help here, especially not star Pacino, who chews up Baitz's ripe dialogue and should be prevented by international convention from doing roles that require accents, especially Southern ones." --Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

"'People I Know,' for all its morbid, melodramatic excess, is immensely watchable, sometimes hypnotically so. You can feel the sleaze, smell the corruption, experience the high of literally getting away with murder. You may be left breathless and more than a bit bewildered by the twists and turns of Baitz’s 'there’s a dangerous deviate round every corner in Manhattan' plot, but you really won’t be bored. In its own perverse way, this harrowing hybrid of sermon and thriller rocks...unsinkable Al, with his inimitable eye-popping, slouching and slurring, adds still another memorable portrait to his gallery of bone-weary losers who might be winners if only they could get a good night’s sleep." --Guy Flatley, Moviecrazed

"Lizzie Grubman's travails pale besides those of Eli Wurman, the world-weary publicist played to rotten perfection by Al Pacino in the nasty but compulsively watchable ‘People I Know’… part of the movie's fun is looking for characters' real-life models. Eli's sole remaining A-list client, legendary movie star Cary Launer (Ryan O'Neal), is a liberal Warren Beatty stand-in who's preparing to run for a U.S. Senate seat against a Republican mayor who sounds an awful lot like Rudy Giuliani…Pacino has rarely been better than as the self-destructive hero." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"As hard-boiled dramas go, ‘People I Know’ finds an unexpectedly soft center in Pacino's Southern-drawling Eli…One has to reach back to ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ to find a Pacino performance as high-wire and sympathetic. Pacino gets superlative support from all of the actors under Dan Algrant's tingling direction. Jon Robin Baitz has created such a textured, swirling cauldron of characters surrounding Eli that their ultimate confluence seems a tad overheated. Anytime you condense a life like Eli Wurman's into 24 hours, one man's tragedy can seem like another man's farce." --Jan Stuart, Newsday