Reel Estate

'The Devil's Advocate' gives new meaning to the phrase 'neighbor from hell'

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When a movie or TV show is set in New York City—and if the people making it are savvy—real estate becomes part of the story itself. In Reel Estate, we look at some of the more memorable domiciles to grace the screen.

Which sounds worse: Finding out that Satan is your long lost father, or living in the same building as your boss? (NB: in this scenario, your boss is also Satan.)

Such was the moral dilemma we found ourselves turning over after a recent re-watching of The Devil's Advocate, and honestly? It's kind of a toss-up.

After being plucked out of Florida obscurity to join a fancy New York law firm, Kevin (Keanu Reeves) and his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) are almost immediately invited to move into an upscale Carnegie Hill co-op that seems to be inhabited exclusively by other staff from the firm ("It's usually a partner's perk," they're told). Oh, and also by his boss, John Milton (Al Pacino), who presides over everything in the penthouse.

We get why he wouldn't say no. Who would, if the choice was a classic-8 with that kind of prewar detailing (note the fireplace), or going back to their old condo in Florida?

It also looks like a nicer setup than Kevin's co-worker's stodgy, window-less apartment across the hall, though we sort of suspect that if this were made in 2015 and not 1997, they'd all be living in a sleek, new construction glass tower instead of this old school co-op building, anyway.

A note about the building: On the Set of New York spotted it as 1107 Fifth Ave (though it's unclear where the interiors were actually filmed), which makes sense given that it's gotten one of the most well-known penthouses in the city. It most recently sold for $30.9 million to a hedge-funder after a fierce battle with a board member who wanted to buy it for herself, according to Curbed, and has wraparound terraces facing in all directions. Originally, the place was built for heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1926, and designed by architects  Rouse and Goldstone, per the most recent listing for the apartment. 

We don't actually see much of it in the movie, other than the beyond insane home office, complete with fireplace and vault. (We do get to see Milton making lurid offers to his employees/neighbors whenever he catches them in the elevator, another downside to living underneath your evil boss.) Unsurprisingly, this was all a sound stage, and not part of any real New York apartment.

Elsewhere, Kevin ends up defending a client described as "the most powerful real estate developer in the city," who almost certainly killed his wife, child, and maid, and is also almost certainly having an affair with his 14-year-old stepdaughter. Naturally, he lives in an appropriately opulent (albeit tacky) spread overlooking Central Park.


OTSNY spotted the exteriors as 9 West 73rd Street (which in real life, is a rental),  but if you thought that decor gives off the overdone air of Donald Trump, you'd be right: It was actually filmed in Trump's real-life penthouse at Trump Tower on 5th Avenue. (We'll leave you to make your own "deal with the devil" jokes on that one.)

In the end, the pressure of decorating their upscale new apartment drives Mary Ann off the deep end (well, that, and a few other things), and in a confrontation Kevin, Milton blasts god as an "absentee landlord."

But which would you rather: a landlord who's never around, or one who always seems to be lurking in the building?


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