Of course, filmmakers — particularly one as talented as writer-director David Mamet — are entitled to artistic license. But the problem here is that the movie blends fact and fiction into a misinformation smoothie. Characters bear the actual names of participants, dialogue is lifted directly from trial transcripts, and Al Pacino nails Spector's shuffle and rasp. But when the movie jets off to the land of make believe — as it often does — there's no red flashing light to warn the audience....
In lieu of examining Spector's actual case and what it says about the American legal system, the film prefers to meditate on what HBO calls "the nature of celebrity" and how it contributed to the supposed framing of Spector. There are long stretches in which former pals, lawyers and the defendant himself muse on the larger reasons for the injustice.I respect Mamet enough to withhold judgment until I see the film. I'll get back to you on the subject. But since a real woman was killed, and I think — in real life — we know Spector killed her, there's at least some disrespect entailed in portraying Spector as innocent and railroaded.
"It's called envy," Pacino-as-Spector says. "Extraordinary accomplishments … transform the grateful into an audience and the envious into a mob."
A work of fiction can explore an alternate history: What if Elvis didn't die, but went into hiding? What if... whatever all that crazy stuff is in the movie "JFK" happened? It could be just junk, feeding fantasies of what we wish had really happened or what would be thrilling to discover had happened, but it could be a serious work of art. I'm trying to think of how it could be great fiction. I'm projecting on to David Mamet what I want to be true of David Mamet and perhaps it's a serious contemplation of what we/Mamet project onto Phil Spector, the truth of what we want to be true.