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25TH HOUR

On what is presumably his last night of freedom, a young man--sentenced to seven years for dealing drugs--parties with two childhood friends.

(Now in stores)


CAST: Edward Norton, Barry Pepper, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rosario Dawson, Anna Paquin

DIRECTOR: Spike Lee

"This is one of Lee's best films, on a level with his most disciplined efforts, 'Malcolm X' and 'Clockers.' He makes New York seem alternately gritty and glitzy, vibrant and alive, even as he captures the sense that nothing will ever be the same--both for New York and for Monty Brogan...'25th Hour' is both thoughtful and exciting, a movie that shifts tones casually and deceptively, building to its powerful finale. Spike Lee, a true original, gets a new slant on the American soul with this film." --Marshall Fine, The Journal News

"Mr. Lee gives the actors plenty of time and room to work, and their work is terrific...The problem, though, is that while the lifelong friendship of these disparate examples of white Manhattan manhood is an enticing conceit, it never feels like much more. The relationship of the three men is both the movie's dramatic center and its narrative weak spot. They seem not so much grounded in a social reality as inserted into one, and the psychology of their rivalries and affections is often blurred, especially as the picture moves toward its brutal climax." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"At its best, '25th Hour' is a melancholy tone poem, deeply affecting in its mute apprehension of loss...But the movie is also muddled by its own ambitions. There is simply no connection between the themes of Benioff's screenplay and 9/11, and every time Lee over-inflates the story, he loses its real pulse...After a spate of dull and/or gimmicky performances, Norton is once again in his peculiar element: His voice and countenance are angry, but his body has a plaintive, poetic curl." --David Edelstein, Slate

"Presented with a character with a hole where his conscience should be, Lee makes the calamitous mistake of connecting Monty with Sept. 11, imbuing the character with tragedy by proxy...You don't doubt Lee's grief about what happened to his city, but this is passion deployed in a vacuum. Monty's pity remains securely self-directed throughout; the dealer does nothing, has done nothing, to earn a stake in such tragedy...mention must be made of Anna Paquin, who has the unfortunate task of playing one of Jacob's students, a repellent creature whom Lee films with all the affection he would bestow on cockroach." --Manohla Dargis, The Los Angeles Times

"Lee, a famously scrappy and frankly chauvinistic New Yorker, has chosen to enhance and expand the compelling storyline by repeatedly acknowledging the tragedy, and by noting its collateral damage…Norton's powerhouse performance is a roiling, riveting fusion of rage and regret, fear and desire." --Joe Leydon, The San Francisco Examiner

"It's so fitting that Spike Lee--our most fearless and underrated mainstream director, as well as a New York icon--is behind '25th Hour,' the first studio movie to address Sept. 11...the film brilliantly uses this transition in Monty's life as a powerful metaphor for the changes we all went through after that terrible Tuesday in September...Spike Lee--with his most assured and mature work, as well as one of the year's finest films--has indeed succeeded Woody Allen as our city's reigning cinematic bard." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"Only Lee would mourn a post-9/11 Manhattan in such a dynamic manner…The picture bogs down during an extended party at a hip late-night club, where everyone drinks too much, talks too much and does things they really shouldn't. The sequence has a woozy incoherence, which is certainly intended, but it saps the movie's energy…You'll occasionally drop out of the film, but you'll never forget seeing it. All in all, not a bad trade-off." --Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"‘25th Hour’ now, in large part, tells the story of New York City post-September 11, 2001, when thus far, Hollywood has been glib and tentative about dealing with September 11; the dream factory won't own up to real-life nightmares…Lee's constantly reminding us that for New Yorkers, the recent past is still very much a present that lingers over the city like a noxious cloud…The movie resonates precisely because it serves as documentary only pretending to be fiction: It's set in a real place recovering from real pain, which Lee makes tangible." --Robert Wilonsky, Dallas Observer