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Based on David Rabe’s celebrated stage play, HurlyBurly feeds out lines that are provocative and questionable. It deals with an overload of dialogue that seems to question why everything we do is done. Eddie (Sean Penn) and Mickey (Kevin Spacey) share a magnificent home in the hills of Los Angeles, and run a casting agency. To say that they are friends is a loose statement, with Eddie being an emotional wreck whom is at odds with life, whilst the smooth talking Mickey doesn’t seem to care about anything. Their friend Phil (Chazz Palminteri) often drops in to their place. He is like a walking time bomb, ready to cause physical harm. Artie (Garry Shandling) just hangs by and allows the two housemates the “use” of Donna (Anna Paquin), an aspiring young actress, whenever they feel like it.
For a brief moment, Eddie and Mickey share the affection of another woman, Darlene (Robin Wright Penn). Later on we observe the unbreakable spirit of Bonnie (Meg Ryan) who may be screwed up, but has a nerve to confront the lifestyle of the guys around her, even though she may be a pawn like the other females. It boils down to the guys of questionable character hanging around, doing drugs, drinking, talking about women, and Phil’s penchant for violence.
Therefore, representation of the standard L.A. scumbag is strong. The dialogue is strong and sometimes overbearing. This dampens the film’s quality, considering the brilliant ensemble cast. Kevin Spacey gives one of those delicious, devilish portrayals, whilst we see an intense Sean Penn, convincing as much as the material allows. Chazz Palminteri is perceptive as the man of many moods. It’s difficult to say whether the filmmakers achieved anything more than targeting a niche audience.