Willy Loman (Movie Review)

Willy Loman is a working-class, African American salesman who dreams of success. He believes he can be successful if he works hard enough and if he can get good luck. He also tries to instill these values into his two sons, Biff and Happy.

He is a 63-year-old man who lives in the same home as his wife Linda and their two boys. He is a successful salesman but not a very good father and husband. He has an affair with a woman who is white, but he does not admit it to his wife.

In this new production of Arthur Miller's play, Willy Loman is played by Wendell Pierce, who starred in the stage version and won the Olivier Award for best actor. His portrayal of Willy is a powerful and uncompromisingly human portrait that is both tragic and hope-filled.

The production also includes black actors in roles that typically feature white characters. The decision to cast black actors as Willy's wife Linda and the woman in his fling with another man is a strong statement on racial issues, and is a crucial step forward for a play that has been frequently depicted by white actors.

John Malkovich is a riveting Biff, the boy whose ambitions are crippled by his father's failures and who, for the most part, acts as Willy's voice of encouragement. The movie's climax involves a violent scene, and Malkovich's performance is so powerful that you may not be able to stop thinking about it long after the theater has shut down for the night.

Kate Reid is a brilliant Linda Loman, a clear-eyed but ferociously supportive wife who encourages her husband to be ambitious and achieve his goals even though she knows he will never succeed. She is the first to know that Willy is considering suicide and chides him for his unrealistic expectations of his family's future.

Andre De Shields plays Ben, Willy's dead older brother and a diamond tycoon who frequently appears in his hallucinations. Ben is Willy's idealized success story, and the idea that if you work hard and do things the right way, you can become a diamond tycoon floats in and out of Willy's mind like a ghost.

This is a powerfully acted and deeply moving version of the play that is both emotionally complex and visually striking, with an excellent design by Anna Fleischle that incorporates skeletal door and window frames. Femi Temowo's score is a mixture of religious spirituals and moody guitar music that accentuates the dreamy reminiscences that permeate Willy's mind.

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