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Sleuth a 4 out of 10 DVD Review

Submitted by on May 29, 2008 – 4:50 pmNo Comment
sleuthHere’s a film that shouldn’t have left the stage. As a release, this game of intelligence and wit is probably best suited for those who have never heard of the original or the premise. Saying that, I’m about to let you in on that very premise:

It’s mediocre to say the least! stars (Wyke) and (Tindle). Caine is on the right, in case you were confused. They meet in strange circumstances regarding Wyke’s wife’s affair with Tindle and propositions are made throughout the film. I’ll leave you guessing in that regard. Is it homoerotic or homosexual? Who knows! It’s not as homoerotic as 300 but sometimes words are so much less blatant and yet more heavily weighted in connotation. This is just one of the things that the film leaves you wondering about.

If this is sounding kinky or weird, you are somewhere near the truth. You find that the story twists and turns and just when you get settled, it twists again. It is incredibly difficult to write a review when, you simply do not understand the tone of the film until the end. Even then, you sit there confused (at least I do) and think: “that could have been so much better”. The script seems confused about its destination, which is surprising since Harold Pinter penned it (I’m told he’s a legend – not so sure now).

I assume that I’m at a serious disadvantage to this film, since I have not seen the original, starring Lawrence Olivier and a younger Michael Caine (1972). The world was assured by (Director) that this was not so much a remake but a retelling. Somehow, the word “retelling” sounds suspiciously like “reimagining” to me. The last “reimagining” I saw was that of ’s Planet of the Apes and that didn’t go down too well. It makes you think what kind of film would be made that its source material is thrown in the bin and a new script is created. I understand anyone modernising a script, but to throw away the original is tantamount to stating that it was awful in the first place. That then begs the question: “Why remake something that you deemed crap?” To this question we shall never know the answer, nor care.

This film of banter and conversation is simply that. There is not much of a destination and not really very eloquent twists. Somehow, it seems that this film was wasted. If you were going to take a story of two men talking / arguing / fighting over a woman, then you’d think they could make their own. Don’t call it “Sleuth”. Give it an edge that modern blockbusters don’t. Having a film based in one location (like a play) is a great idea which works with good chemistry between the actors and great lines. Unfortunately this not the case with this script. It seems unnecessarily elongated and you feel like shouting at the screen “HURRY UP AND GET TO THE POINT!” I truly expected so much more. Caine though, does show himself to be fairly convincing as an eccentric and sinister crime writer. Unfortunately, Law tends to show the piece up a bit. An alpha male (in this film) he is not! Somehow, he doesn’t quite catch the essence of “maniac” too well. Due to this, Caine (in some scenes) acts as if Law is a maniac and it looks embarrassing.

I have wanted to see these two actors opposite each other since Law remade Alfie (an old Michael Caine film). The physical similarities are uncanny and both have shown their acting capabilities in the past. Unfortunately, the story just loses your interest after 60 minutes. When most films (of this length) by the first hour are reaching their most tense, this seems to fizzle out and you twiddle your thumbs patiently waiting for resolution.

This is a great concept of a film. The direction is interesting with some choice camera shots, but the script does not come up to standard. The most important question that is asked of a reviewer is that of “did you like it”. To that question, I can only answer: “I’m not sure”. I liked elements of it, but unfortunately there were far too many things wrong with the script. I’d recommend it (but only for lovers of the stage). This is not a film for the general audience. However, if you give it the chance, you may like it. You’ll never love it though; it’s just too damn twisty!

Rating:2.5 out of 5

As a supplement warning: If you are homophobic: don’t bother with this film. Personally it never bothers me because I’m a Brit and a luvvie and I love all the gay connotations! (For all the female readers: that was joke)!

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