Monday, 4 April 2011

Sleuth


The 2007 re-make of Sleuth is, unlike many re-makes, by no means a waste of time. For a start, the script is by the late Harold Pinter, who adapts the famous stage play by Anthony Shaffer with verve. The original film version starred Laurence Olivier as the novelist, Wyke, and Michael Caine as his young rival Milo. Now Caine plays Wyke and Jude Law is Milo.

Caine and Law have both played Alfie, and I noticed that Pinter managed to include ‘What’s it all about?’ as one of the lines – a nice joke! They both do a good job here, with Caine especially impressive. I really do like him as an actor.

Shaffer’s original play had quite a bit to say about the detective story form. Pinter largely abandons this, which is perhaps a pity. Shaffer co-wrote three very clever Golden Age mysteries himself, in the 50s. His co-author was his twin Peter, better known for Equus and Amadeus.

Overall, a fairly short, stylised and snappy film. The basic story may be familiar, but this version is distinctive enough to be worth watching. And you get the impression Caine and Law enjoyed themselves.


4 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Thanks for this review. I happen to like Michael Caine very much as an actor, and it appeals to me that he's switched roles in the two versions of the film. I'll have to look out for this one.

John said...

I was surprised by this movie and liked what Pinter did. Here's a portion of what I wrote about the movie for another website back in 2008:

"Pinter peeled away all the artifice of the original (a parody of the old-fashioned whodunits of the 30s and 40s) - the clown outfit, that annoying laughing mannequin in particular -- and substituted them for the cold austerity of a home that is something of a technophile's wet dream. It's not really a home but a fortress of paranoia perfectly designed for the revenge-filled game playing (both verbal and psychological) that makes up the bulk of the story. What's far more interesting in this version as opposed to the whodunit/puzzle aspects of the original, is the fact that the viewer never really knows what is real and what is fake. Is anyone ever telling the truth? Are any of the creepy caresses real expression of desire or more mind games. Was Milo really talking to Maggie? Who was driving that car in the final frames? We never know. Pinter's world is one of sinister ambiguity. I kind of like it all because I wasn't demanding it to be a frame-by-frame remake. It's an adaptation of the original and I think it succeeds in uncovering the darker impulses that all the quaint aspects like anagrammed aliases, dioramas of murder mystery novels and a laughing wooden mannequin covered up in the original SLEUTH."

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, I too am a Michael Caine fan and I think you'll enjoy this film.
John, even I have to admit your review gets to the nub of the movie better than mine! Many thanks.

aguja said...

I, too, love M.C.'s acting. This seems like a film to watch ... and that my husband would also enjoy.
Thank you!