"American Buffalo" is a rare example of the theater play adapted from stage to the big silver screen. Watching it, you might have an impression that you watch your TV. Fortunately, the quality of the disc is one of the best I have ever experienced. Unlike your average TV program, the image is crisp and the sound is superbly engineered. Not to mention that there are no ads to divert you from what happens on the stage.
And there happens very little. As expected, the plot is designed to go on in only one room, the junk-shop, and there are basically two actors, with the small guy thrown in from time to time. Hoffman and Franz engage in a prolonged, fast dialogue with their stage potential showing off much more than in any action movie they participated in during the last decade. Quite fast into the play, we get to familiar with their personalities. Not only the script helps us in that, but also their mimics, their body-language. And this play is all about personalities.
What will long-time male friends do if confronted with external money-earning possibility? Will one let another to the secret? Will they share the task? The answer seems to be mutual trust. We are no angels, however, and some of us are short-tempered, testosteron-full, irritable, restless, self-unappreciating, blabbering life-losers. Some of us are stoic, trusting yet suspicious, naive, irritable life-losers. Hoffman masterly portrays the first type, and Franz illuminates the second.
Have you noticed the use of gadgets? The junk items and furnishings of the shop play an important role, indeed. Hoffman, while talking non-stop, touches them, moves them, looks at them without looking, concentrating on the words he speaks. Sure that this feature is overdrawn here, exaggerated. But have you thought whether you touch items while talking to others? It helps us concentrate if we are insecure and restless. On the other hand, this irritates our interlocutors beyond description. Franz does not really care about his items for sale or anything else for that matter. He is irritated by Hoffman, by his personality, incompatible with his own, disconcerted by Hoffman's inability to stay calm. He fight the irritation in the name of friendship.
The same applies to the dialogue - they get mutually irritated at each other. They challenge themselves with accusations, play these little instruments in ourselves that force men to stand up and go for something that pure reason advises against.
In the end, what matters is the friendship. People who have found themseleves in a situation where trust plays an important role - may have difficulty with loyalty. The bottom line is that some things are valued more than others. Friendship.
In summary, I have been delighted to watch this play adapted for the silver screen. It's so much different than the rest of movie production. It's refreshing, spirit-uplifting and very, very well-played. Outstanding!!!