Directed by Kenneth Branagh.
Written by Harold Pinter. Based on the stage production by
Starring Michael Caine and Jude Law.
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 10/23/07
While I have not seen the 1972 original film
production of "Sleuth"--based on a play by Anthony Shaffer--I'm
intrigued that Michael Caine appeared in both the original and the
update, playing different roles in each film.
"Sleuth" is a two-man show, literally--the
only actors in the film are Caine and Jude Law, who produced this
remake. The film follows the action at a visually stunning
mansion in England where a famous crime novel writer, Andrew Wyke (Caine),
has invited a struggling actor, Milo Tilman (Law), to have a drink
and discuss a rather dicey situation: Milo is banging Andrew's wife,
who left him for Milo some time ago. Milo has come over
because he desperately wants to marry the wife, Maggie; he needs
Andrew to grant her a divorce. Andrew wants to be rid of her
but in just the right way, and he has just the idea to make both
men's dreams come true.
Obviously, there's more to it than this, and
the trailer hints at what else is to come by only showing you scenes
from the first 20 minutes of the film. This is good marketing,
because if you don't know the background of the original film, I
think what follows is fairly interesting psychological warfare
between the two men. My buddy Ross and I caught the freebie
last night and both of us thought that the setup was
excellent...but, both of us thought that the film comes off this
high and does not deliver on its initial promise by the time
everything is said and done.
I don't really know why this is; maybe it's
that we never get to touch the actual feelings/thoughts of each man
(and, you really can't talk about it without giving everything
away), or maybe it's that there are some resolved issues by the time
the movie ends. But, the direction by Kenneth Branagh is
tight, crisp, interesting; the performances by both Law and Caine
(as well as the snippy or witty wordplay between the two men,
depending on the situation) are excellent. The house is the
sort-of third wheel in "Sleuth" and it also does great work; the
house is cool, an interesting visual, and a place that seems to get
bigger as the film rolls along.
But something just didn't work for me with
the film; I can recommend it as a great conversation piece, but as a
work of art that replicates the impression made by the original?
Tough to say. "Sleuth" ends up as an okay movie, but one that
should be seen nevertheless.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard