David Mamet is not the kind of director who one might expect to write a romantic comedy, but this the basis of the plot of his recent film, State and Main. Riding on the success of Wag the Dog, Mamet's film satirizes Hollywood greed and excess, as the film industry types head to small New England town. The result is an incredibly witty film aided by great casting.
Director Walt Price is in trouble. His film, a turn-of-the-century period piece called The Old Mill, has just been moved from its original New Hampshire locale to Waterford, Vermont, and he's losing money all the time. On top of this Waterford doesn't even have the old mill promised in its brochure, and Price has his work cut out in keeping the cameras rolling. Unfortunately, his leading man has a thing for teenage girls and sets his sights on a local waitress; meanwhile, his leading lady wants an extra $800,000 to do a previously contracted nude scene. The neurotic screenwriter, Joe, doesn't want "the essence" of his story compromised, especially after meeting Ann, a local bookstore owner who tells him to stick by his principles. Add to that Walt's bad tempered producer, the local mayor, his social-climbing wife, and Ann's spurned local politico ex-boyfriend and, the screenplay develops an intriguing complexity. The main storyline of the film concentrates on the relationship between Joe and Ann and the temptations with which Joe is faced in his efforts to get his film produced.