Set during World War II, FOCUS is based on Arthur Miller’s first published novel. It is the story of Lawrence Newman (William H. Macy), a man who has settled into a relatively anonymous life. He lives with his mother, has held the same job for twenty years, and rarely strays from his daily routine. He even witnesses a woman being attacked outside his window and remains silent, despite a criminal investigation. His life changes significantly, though, when he gets a new pair of glasses that make him look Jewish. He suddenly loses his job and realizes he is under heavy scrutiny from his Brooklyn neighbours. His search for new employment leads him to Gertrude (Laura Dern), a woman whose Jewish features kept him from hiring her at his previous firm. They fall madly in love, despite the contrast in their personalities: Gertrude is outspoken while Lawrence is more shadowy. Her physical features cause even more conflict with his neighbours and soon Lawrence must choose between standing up to them or finding a way to fit in, while grappling with his own bigotry and fears. Photographer and first-time director Neal Slavin makes expert use of colour to give the film great visual depth. This moving, subtle work is enhanced by an outstanding ensemble cast, including David Paymer and Meat Loaf.



May 02, 2002


Neal Slavin


Arthur Miller (novel) Kendrew Lascelles (screenplay)


United International Pictures (UIP)


Drama, Romance




106 minutes