Director: David Mamet
What comes first for Bobby Gold in the choice of separating church and state—his loyalty to Judaism or his duty as a police officer?
His identity as a Jewish man was nearly a forgotten afterthought before Bobby Gold (Joe Mantegna) was assigned to solve the murder of an elderly Jewish storekeeper killed in an apparent robbery but after a brutal antisemitic comment is hurled his direction by a colleague in his New York precinct, Gold becomes aware that he can’t ignore his religious identity any longer.
House of Games writer/director and award winning playwright David Mamet’s 1991 film Homicide which earned him a nomination for the Cannes Film Festival Golden Palm began as a straight adaptation of the novel Suspects by William J. Caunitz until the writer began deviating from the text to such an extent that it evolved into a wholly original work (IMDb). Featuring a tremendous performance by frequent Mamet actor Joe Mantegna as detective Bobby Gold with a star-making turn by William H. Macy as his partner Tim Sullivan, Homicide first begins as an above average police thriller as the officers try to track down dangerous Ving Rhames who has so far alluded every agency after him including the F.B.I.
However and much to his initial dismay, Gold is reassigned to the case of the killed shopkeeper which he soon realizes, may lead to even greater intrigue as he’s led down into a secret underground Jewish organization who fight modern day Nazis who hide in plain sight with antisemitic acts. Soon caught between his job with his newfound Jewish conscience, Gold suffers a crisis of values in trying to figure out how to coexist in both worlds and morally decide what is just but quickly, he begins to alienate and frustrate colleagues like Sullivan when his job and lives are put into jeopardy after he’s brought back into the prior case and tries to solve them both.
Dated by today’s standards and a bit rough around the edges, the film’s trademark Mamet styled repetitively foul-mouthed crisp dialogue does begin to wear on the nerves pretty quickly (since it plays infinitely better in works such as Glengarry) but as the plot grows even more complicated once he’s brought into the other world, it’s impossible not to watch. A gripping achievement, Homicide received three Independent Spirit Award nominations and accolades from critical societies for Mamet (London Critics Circle Film Award) and a double honor shared with his work on Barton Fink for cinematographer Roger Deakins from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.