Calm after the storm
"The Guys," adapted from the post-September 11 off-Broadway play, is a quietly engrossing remembrance of some of the ordinary heroes of the New York Fire Department.
By DIANE SNYDER
In the days after the World Trade Center fell, the news media was filled
with stories of ordinary people being lauded as heroes simply for doing
their jobs. If these snapshot accounts of people's lives often sounded
the same (courageous individual devoted to family sacrifices life to save
others), well, there were just too many stories to tell in too little
Anne Nelson confines herself to just a handful in "The Guys," the screen
adaptation of her two-character Off-Broadway play, which featured a
rotating cast of celebrities during its yearlong run. Director Jim
Simpson, who also helmed the stage production (and, like Nelson, is
making his feature film debut), has retained original stars Sigourney
Weaver (his real-life wife) and Anthony LaPaglia. This meticulous,
quietly engrossing adaptation opens up the story just enough for the
screen without sacrificing the play's intimacy.
|Directed by: Jim Simpson.|
Written by: Anne Nelson.
Adapted from the play by: Anne Nelson.
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Anthony LaPaglia, Irene Walsh, Jim Simpson, Charlotte Simpson, Julian Trompeter, Katharine Schreiber, Lucas DeBassac, Joshua Ross, Shelita Birchett, Ron Dortch, Alfredo Narciso, Julia Nelson Black, David Nelson Black.
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Nelson based the story on an experience she had shortly after September
11. In the wake of the disaster, Joan (Weaver), an upper-middle-class
Manhattan journalist who wants to do what she can to help, ends up
composing eulogies for Nick (LaPaglia), a Brooklyn fire captain who lost
eight men when the Twin Towers collapsed. They make an odd
couple, Joan observes via voiceover, using a subway analogy to explain
the nonintersecting lives they'd been leading: "Nick and I weren't
supposed to meet. You couldn't create another sequence for his life that
leads to me. Or for my life that leads to him. After September 11, all
over the city, people jumped tracks."
Through her questions, Joan gets him to reveal the little details and
quirky characteristics that defined each colleague. Instead of seeing
them through flashbacks, their personalities come to life through Nick's
humorous and heartfelt memories. One was his best friend, a family man
active in his church; another, a rookie who had been on the job only a
couple of weeks. Weaver and Paglia impress with understated performances,
conveying the tattered emotions that were surfacing beneath the
ordinarily complacent veneer of many New Yorkers in the 9/11 aftermath.|
Simpson wisely zeroes in on his actors, letting their voices and facial
expressions set the pace and the tone. While "The Guys" may not be the
feel-good movie of the year, it's a calming, cathartic experience that
will both stir and soothe at a time when this country is facing further
uncertainty and pain.
|MARCH 29, 2003|
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Reader comments on The Guys:
BORING from annoyed auditer, Oct 28, 2003
The Guys from John Cardwell, Nov 25, 2004
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