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October 20, 2020 | Rome, Italy

Sleuth

By | 2018-03-21T18:26:44+01:00 November 1st, 2007|Reviews|

3

Date: 2007

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Starring: Michael Caine, Jude Law

Kenneth Branagh’s Bang & Olufsen-cum-Kubrick take on playwright Harold Pinter’s classic pas-de-deux never breaks a convincing sweat — though Michael Caine and Jude Law give it their stylish all. Maybe after a several theatrical productions and a 1972 movie starring Caine and the great Laurence Olivier, “Sleuth” just doesn’t have a remake left.

Shrewdly toying with Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1972 casting, Branagh makes Caine into Andrew Wyke, a cuckolded mystery writer; Law (played by Caine in the ’72 version) is Milo Tindle, Wyke’s wife’s hermaphroditic lover who’s come bidding for a divorce agreement. The rest, a plasma of expressions, is snarled sexual rivalry and gamesmanship plastered on a whitewashed techno-backdrop reminiscent of “A Clockword Orange” (and Law at times a mirror image of Malcolm McDowell). The Caine-Law duo is a delight to watch and the Pinterian wordplay a marvel of keen snark in an era of systematic abridgement and text-message terseness.

But the rivals, meant for the stage, are a thick silver screen from anything but their own conceit. The proceedings are curiously suspenseless. And while Pinter is as interested in Massage as Message, hollowness dogs the whole. 2007.

About the Author:

David Trask
Hong Kong based David Trask is a longtime freelance movie reviewer.

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