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Focus (2001)

William H. Macy , Laura Dern , Neal Slavin  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

Price: $48.95 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: William H. Macy, Laura Dern, David Paymer, Meat Loaf, Kay Hawtrey
  • Directors: Neal Slavin
  • Writers: Arthur Miller, Kendrew Lascelles
  • Producers: Anita Slavin, Jamie Rizzo, Kip Konwiser, Martin Geller, Michael Bloomberg
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: March 19, 2002
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005V1XK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,022 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Focus" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Documentary

Editorial Reviews

A great 2001 movie,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Morality with style November 3, 2001
Approaching Arthur Miller's heavily moral tale cinematically, one could fashion a straightforward story that would very possibly leave the audience both stony-faced and weary upon exiting the theater. What director Neal Slavin has done is to imbue this film with striking visuals including occasional, intense dream images that make this an unusual work, easily transcending the realm of the ordinary.
Set in the 40s in Brooklyn, New York, the story concerns a mild-mannered joe, Newman, played by the always-engaging William Macy who works as a human resources officer in a nameless firm. Single, he lives alone with his mother; his lifestyle and mannerisms brand him as something between convention-abiding milquetoast and lonely recluse. There's an ever-present edge to Newman--whenever he smiles, you can't tell if he's trying desperately to feel inside what should accompany the corners of his mouth turning up, or if he is truly pained making the effort.
Into his life comes Gertrude Hart, played brilliantly by Laura Dern. This is very likely one of her best roles; she's flawless here. Sassy, fun-loving, but simultaneously caught up in the ruthless rule of the mob, she both fights and gives into Newman, letting us know that love can happen, but that social convention can easily sway how it goes.
The vicious anti-Semitism on display here is typified well by none other than Meat Loaf--perfectly cast in Fight Club, and here just as effective. As Newman's next door neighbor, he effortlessly vacillates between sham innocence and the crude, fearful hostility of "them"--Jews, blacks, whoever--that those of his ilk live to destroy.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great American Fable July 21, 2002
William H. Macy is at his best, as always, in `Focus' a well rendered screen adaptation of Arthur Millers book of the same title. Macy plays Lawrence, a rather meek man, living in a WASPy neighborhood during the early years of W.W.II America. At work he is pressed to wear glasses when he has "mistakenly" hired a Jewish woman, only to find that by donning the eye wear he himself appears to be Jewish. The next day at work after passing over a new applicant who also looks (but is not) Jewish, he is demoted to a less "visible" job and in protest quits his job.
Back at home his bigoted neighbors notice his new appearance, and he begins to invite the same vandalism that has been plaguing the the new owner of the neighborhood corner store, a Jew. He also is unable to find work (on account of his appearance), until he meets the same woman he passed over, Gertrude (Laura Dern), who hires him to work for her Jewish employer.
The story continues portraying a selectively forgotten era of American history, and manages to weave a fable of significant importance without ever feeling preachy. I would suggest this film to anyone, as it portrays its subject as well as any movie I have seen to date.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prejudice in our midst December 1, 2001
Arthur Miller wrote this novel, so powerful and so incisive in the subject matter that more than 50 years later we can still relate to it.
It took a vision such as Neil Slavin to get this into a film and he chose well his actor for the role of Newman: William H Macy, who is perhaps, one of the most underrated actors around, but one actor that always delivers with an integrity and honesty that makes him shine and make this film as enjoyable as it was reading the Miller text years ago.
Laura Dern and David Paymer excel in their roles, as well as the rest of the cast, but the biggest surprise was Meat Loaf in a very demanding role as the bigotted neighbor. This actor is just unbelievable and we can only hope he is given new opportunities to excel and shine on his own.
The cinematography evokes the New York and Brooklyn of the 40s and brings to mind some paintings by Edward Hopper, especially in two sequences: The first when Newman is looking for a job and leaves a building and he's seen walking down a desolated Manhattan street. The other one is the night sequence where the bullies are going to attack Newman, who is seen walking with his wife and long dark shadows behind them keep following until the confrontation.
This is a film worth seeing and recommending to people that enjoy Arthur Miller's work and the work of a good film director with the intelligence of Neil Slavin.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch your step, neighbor! March 22, 2008
Arthur Miller wrote the novel which is the basis for this movie during WW2. He is using his experience and observation of antisemitism in New York to build a vision of neighborhood Nazism, with a movement called Union Crusaders fighting against non-Christians. The story uses the clever device of a hero who is a non-Jew, who happens to look a bit like the Jewish stereotype and who happens to be a bit of an outsider who dislikes meetings and groups and handclapping and cheering, and who marries a woman with a German name, which supports the suspicions.
The story is scary and easily transports from 1945 to any time you want to look at.
The film skillfully supports this feeling of not being in a specific historical time by non-realistic settings for the suburban neighborhood. You never make the mistake to think that you are in a real place, it is always like a stage. You might just be in Brave New World.
The film is strictly didactic with its obvious lessons for viewers, but rather than resenting that, I developed an admiration for the script. I have not read the novel, but I would assume, that the adaptation is very much in the right spirit.
Actors are right on as well, not only Macy and Dern, but also Meat Loaf as neigborhood leader of the nazis.
Frankly speaking, I expected not to like the film very much, but I was wrong.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent movie...very underrated...
Published 2 months ago by Debbie Meston
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank goodness it wasn't Disney.
If this had been a Disney production, the corner merchant Mr. Finkleman would have had a daughter who helped save the life of some child on the same street, and then the parents of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Clifton T. Moberg
4.0 out of 5 stars "When they make up their own mind about who you are, it's over"
Though fairly devoid of dramatic twists or serious action, FOCUS succeeds in being a nonetheless gripping film. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Doug Park
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected more
I paid to view this movie, as I admire Mr. Macy but the movie was just not what I expected. Disappointing story line.
Published 17 months ago by Linda M
5.0 out of 5 stars great shows Jewish discrimination in the USA Early on
The Mishkan I attend recomended it , Great Movie how theJewish people were discriminated against by many in the USA early on
Published 21 months ago by Maureen Leary
3.0 out of 5 stars "No one calls me a Jew and gets away with it!!"
FOCUS (2001) is one of those rare early 2000's films that I got to see new. Though my figure says it grossed less than $800,000 in America, it is well worth watching. Read more
Published on January 3, 2011 by E. Hernandez
5.0 out of 5 stars stunning in its relevance for today
I just re-watched this movie in 2010 as the Tea Party and anti-immigration rallies have swept American. Read more
Published on September 19, 2010 by nyc sandee
4.0 out of 5 stars The Nightmare of Prejudice
Near the end of World War II a middle aged Brooklyn man wakes from a nightmare, looks out his window and sees a neighbor beating and raping a young woman who we learn dies of her... Read more
Published on May 13, 2008 by Susan K. Schoonover
5.0 out of 5 stars So long as I don't see injustice, I am injustice
This is an amazing jewel of a motion picture. It appears to address anti-Semitism.

I think it goes much farther in speaking directly to the blind eye of... Read more
Published on July 14, 2007 by Scott Ellington
5.0 out of 5 stars Title is perfect!
Mr. Newman needs a new pair of glasses to focus his faltering vision. However, this also brings into focus the ugliness of what's really going on around him in his neighborhood. Read more
Published on March 10, 2007 by Chrissy K. McVay
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