A private investigator traces the origins of a supposed snuff film,
drawing him into the seedy underbelly of illegal pornography.
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Written by Andrew Kevin Walker
Starring Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini,
Peter Stormare, Catherine Keener, Anthony Heald,
Chris Bauer, Myra Carter, Amy Morton
There aren't a lot of mainstream films that explore the darkest aspects of Hollywood, and the ones that do are often critical failures. Personally, I don't think this is an accident, but I digress. There's a whole side of entertainment that regular people never see. The place where dreams are shattered, innocence is stolen, and young people will do anything to be a star. 8MM shows this world to the extreme degree, giving us a glimpse into the seediest underbelly of Hollywood's immensely profitable underground porn industry. The film didn't get a lot of attention when it came out, despite being a modest box office success. It's since become a cult classic thanks to its impressive cast and taboo subject matter.
Cage plays Tom Welles, a private investigator who is hired by a rich widow who finds a possible snuff film in her dead husband's safe. She wants Welles to trace the film's origins and find out if it's authentic. This search takes Welles to a lot of dark places, but first partners him up with porn store clerk and aspiring musician Max California (Phoenix, in an early role). Together, they trace the film to local piece of shit Eddie Poole (Gandolfini, the same year he'd land the lead role in The Sopranos), who works for national piece of shit porno power player Dino Velvet (Stormare). The film is fairly disturbing for the faint of heart, but it excels in characters and production design.
8MM tells an original story in a setting that is not often explored. It features a great lead performance from Nicolas Cage, and a showstealing, sleazy performance from James Gandolfini. It's a satisfying mystery that has fallen under the radar, but deserves a second wind.