American Buffalo movie review

F@ck you!  This is a review of American Buffalo, you piece of shiz! I know about people, okay, I know about FRIENDSHIP – I understand relationships, and movies, and how stage plays translate to film, God D@mn it!  David Mamet! And f@ck you if you don’t like it because MAMET, MOTHER F@CKER!  Who the hell are you to tell me how to review American Buffalo?  You go straight to hell! 

(That’s barely funny if you’re familiar with David Mamet’s writing style and if you’ve never seen one of his movies or plays, then my writing seems weirder than usual)

American Buffalo (that is, the screenplay) does have a lot to say about society and culture, but the movie focuses on the relationships between the characters and how the plot changes them; it’s not so much the plot that matters.  A choice by director Michael Corrente, I guess.  The plot just changes what you think the characters are capable of as the movie rolls toward it’s conclusion.

The movie is sparse; with only three actors (Dennis Franz, Dustin Hoffman and Sean Nelson) and basically only one location, things can get a little stagnant. The shop where most scenes take place is drab by design, but it would have helped if they’d made the basement… I dunno, old brick just so it was a different color. They try to change it up by going in front of the store, in the store, in the alley behind the store and sitting in a parked car, but the movie is claustrophobic to a fault.

Since the tension has to come from within, it’s fueled by jealousy, suspicion and greed; Teach wants Bob’s job as the thief because he needs money, but he also wants Bob’s place as Donny’s friend – or rather, someone he cares for.  Sure, Teach and Donny are friends, but Bob and Donny’s relationship is more akin to family.  Later in the film, Teach manipulates Donny against both the unseen Fletcher and Bob and it’s really this that brings us to the complex rather than the robbery they’re planning.

One of the things I like about David Mamet is how he can make a character so powerful and the guy doesn’t even show up in the room.  After you watch the movie, you may feel like you know Fletcher, but he’s not shown in the movie, not even once.  (Also Grace and Ruth, but to a lesser extent.)  Mamet, of course, has this gift of writing hypnotic, high speed, long winded dialogue that weaves a spell; it’s repetitive and sorta frustrating, but it works… although I imagine with the wrong cast and director, it could be a nightmare.

The movie (screenplay?) does have it’s oddities.  The coffee shop represents… I dunno, winners, it’s where all your hopes and dreams are, but you can’t say there, you don’t belong there because you’re a loser (Donny, Bob and Teach)…  that’s why those two women hang out there who won big at the card game (Grace and Ruth)… yeah?  I dunno.

If you like David Mamet movies, you’ll enjoy American Buffalo, but if you’re a hater, this isn’t going to change your mind.  You could start with The Edge; that’s a good way to ease in and then move on to Glen Garry/Glen Ross and move on from there, but American Buffalo isn’t for beginners.  I’m a fan, but if you’re not, I certainly understand why – nevertheless, I have to give it an 8.5 out of 10.  This movie doesn’t f@ck around!
“I say f@ck. The c@ck. S@cker!”

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on March 13, 2015, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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