Spike Lee's 25th Hour never got the respect it deserved from mainstream audiences. Critics were mostly positive about the project, but it only earned a paltry 13 million bucks before fading from the box office -- despite the name recognition of director Lee, and stars Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, and Rosario Dawson. That's a shame, since it's certainly one of Lee's better films.

The title tells the tale of Monty Brogan (Norton), a street-smart drug dealer who gets pinched by the Feds. With no way out, he's looking at a seven year bid upstate. We meet up with Monty on his last day of freedom, where he reevaluates his life, his relationship with his father (the inimitable Brian Cox) and girlfriend Naturelle (Dawson). He spends his last night of freedom in a crowded nightclub surrounded by the people he loves most. Lee's film is a somber affair, based on a novel by David Benioff, but it's also beautifully shot and incredibly well-performed. I love many of the scenes in 25th Hour -- some because they're funny, others because they're poignant and still others because they're heartbreaking. That last description basically sums up the one I want to share with you.