Loose Knot

City Hall unravels in the attempt to sort out its story of money and murder

It's a fine, poignant moment. Otherwise, Pacino doesn't seem like a real mayor, and his raspy voice is neither seductive nor stirring. He seems, in fact, like one of the hoods who flit around his administration -- shadowy moths at the edge of the lamplight. He's too small; Cusack too pale and one-dimensional: Who's running the show?

The picture ends with an absurd paean to political apprenticeship; it's like the end of a TV movie -- a neat knot desperately tied from too many strings of human frailty and cupidity. The city, meanwhile -- a vast amalgam of history and lives -- watches amusedly as its transient tenants play their absorbing games.

City Hall opens Fri, Feb. 16, at area theaters.

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