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Text Commentary

Addressing the Direct Address in 25th Hour
by Clint Upchurch `

In 25th Hour, Spike Lee examines human nature raising questions regarding morality and blame throughout the course of the film and addresses them in Monty Brogan’s “Fuck You” monologue.  Lee uses the protagonist’s direct address to the audience, a common tool in his cinematographic repertoire, to captures Brogan’s monologue.  The direct address in 25th Hour is similar to many of Lee’s direct addresses as it isolates an individual who looks directly into the camera and discusses the major thematic ideas.  25th Hour’s direct address is unique because Lee incorporates an over the shoulder throughout the rather lengthy shot to capture Brogan’s face.  Brogan’s face is juxtaposed with the words “Fuck You” written on the mirror creating two Brogan’s with different ideals.  Also, Lee cuts to shots of the groups Brogan is attacking making this particular direct address style unique from other Lee direct addresses because he features shots of the people to which Monty is referring.   

Throughout the course of the film, Lee raises questions of moral ambiguity and with whom the blame for Monty’s actions should reside. This is reflected in Brogan’s monologue.  Brogan, who is established as the hero at the beginning of the film when he rescues the dying dog, attacks other people groups in New York City from a moral high ground.  Lee uses an over the shoulder shot into the mirror to capture Brogan’s face which suggests an ambiguity as we aren’t privy to a direct shot of his face, creating two identities- the mirror Monty and the physical Monty.  Furthermore, Brogan’s drug trafficking conviction brings into question his morality and suggests that his evaluation of other people throughout New York City is not fair or accurate but rather propagate stereotypes.  In a similar manner, Monty shares the blame of his conviction for drug trafficking with all of those he attacks in his monologue, suggesting that in some way they caused him to traffic heroin and consequently should be at fault for the crime just like him.  This ambiguity in morality and where blame should fall contributes  is expressed in the over the shoulder shot which shows two different Monty’s coexisting and expressing different ideals.  Monty’s dialogue with his reflection suggests his own perception of racism relying on stereotypes to distribute blame for his own failures. Ultimately, Brogan takes responsibility for his own actions when he states to his morally ambiguous reflection, “No. No, fuck you, Montgomery Brogan. You had it all, and you threw it away, you dumb fuck!”  This follows the thematic sequence of the movie as Monty’s ultimate decision is not to run from his impending incarceration.  

This Commentary is related to the following Clips:
Monty's Monologue by Spike Lee (2002) This clip from director Spike Lee's 25th Hour features Monty Brogan's (Edward Norton) famous monologue about post 9/11 America.