Our look at monologues from non-Oscar-winning actors continues with this one from Edward Norton that, if YouTube is any indication, is a favourite for aspiring actors everywhere.
I’ve heard 25th Hour described before as “two-hours of a pretty boy being afraid he’s going to be raped when he goes to jail”… whilst that may be part of the emotional turmoil that exists within the film, describing 25th Hour in that way is like describing Antichrist as a film about a couple going on holiday in the woods. Rather leaves something out of the telling.
Already in some stage of production when 9/11 happened, Lee's film was the first to be granted a licence to film in the city in the wake of that horrific tragedy, and Lee chooses to weave an element of that into his narrative, both subtextually and on a surface level. With this in mind, the story gains a significance and poignancy as it chronicles the conflicting emotional strain of someone being inescapably pulled into a terrible place that will forever alter their future. And perhaps the centrepiece to this is the infamous "Fuck you!" monologue.
Where does monologue end and narration begin? Arguably the separation exists when the immediate integrity of the moment of performance is compromised as the film cuts away from the actor delivering the piece and focuses on images that assist in illustrating the point of that piece instead. If we are to accept this as a hard rule with regard to such things (rarely a wise move, but we’ll go with it for now), then this series has already hit on that once before when we looked at Steven Seagal in On Deadly Ground. And if I’m willing to let Seagal get away with it, then I’m more than happy to extend the same courtesy to Edward Norton.
Setting the scene: Monty stops by Brogan’s, his father James’s bar for dinner and to confirm plans for the next day, where James shall drive Monty to prison. Words are exchanged between the two about James’s remorse at his profiting from Monty’s ill-gotten money, which now sends his boy to prison. Monty goes to the bathroom, where, upon being greeted by his reflection, launches into a tirade against every stereotype his city has to offer…