[Quick Summary: After an old Chicago Italian-American shoeshine man agrees to take the rap for a mob guy, he is assigned a keeper, who takes them on one last adventure in Lake Tahoe.]
Holy crap, this is unbelievably good writing.
Roger Ebert states it best: This film "confirms Mamet's gift for leading us through truly bewildering plots."
The plot seems simple.
In two days, the old shoeshine man Gino (Don Amache) will admit to a murder he didn't commit. In exchange, the mob boss will give him a boat when Gino gets out of jail.
Jerry (Joe Mantegna), a lower mob guy, babysits Gino for these two days.
Jerry feels sorry for the old man and decides to take Gino to Lake Tahoe for one last hurrah.
Now the plot really shines when impossible things happen. Gino's innocent curiosity and unbelievable timing keeps Jerry hopping.
Why do we believe it at all? Because it all stems from Gino's character.
ex. Jerry takes Gino to the roulette table. Jerry has rigged it with the house that Gino will continue to win, but not take any of the winnings.
Soon Gino turns a few bucks into $35k, and followers flock to the table.
Jerry pulls them away and makes up a reason that the money has to be given back.
Gino agrees, and we think that's the end of the situation.
But it's not.
When Jerry is busy, Gino wanders away to a Wheel of Fortune. He bets the entire $35k on a turn to see if his streak would continue.
That's what was great about the script.
We believe this unbelievable moment because this is something curious Gino would do.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: If the character believes it, I'll believe it too.
Things Change (1988)
by David Mamet & Shel Silverstein