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34 customer reviews

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(Mar 19, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

A great 2001 movie,

Special Features

  • Documentary

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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005V1XK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,064 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Focus" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By LGwriter on 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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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dorian Gray on July 21, 2002
Format: DVD
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 By Amazon Customer on 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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on March 22, 2008
Format: DVD
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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