by Tony Medley
Sleuth was an interesting
1970 play by Anthony Shaffer that was developed into a Joseph L.
Mankiewicz 1972 film starring Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier. Hard
to go wrong there, although it was 139 minutes long.
Now Kenneth Branagh has
taken a turn at it, with a screenplay by Harold Pinter. Branagh even got
Michael Caine to return, although this time heís playing mystery writer
Andrew Wyke, Olivierís role. Jude Law appears to take over Caineís role
as Milo Tindle. One thing in Branaghís favor here is that he has trimmed
the running time substantially, down to 86 minutes.
The best thing I liked
about this was the cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos, who uses unique
camera angles and all sorts of other tricks, like showing Wyke and
Tindle drinking by framing their bodies facing each other with their
heads out of the frame.
As far as the filmmaking
goes, it compares somewhat to Fracture, earlier this year.
Unfortunately, itís not nearly as entertaining as that Anthony Hopkins
vehicle, which was one of the yearís more charming films.
The script has some witty
lines, even having Wyke say ďWhatís it all about?Ē a clever reference to
one of Caineís more successful outings. Even so, I found myself
squirming a lot and looking at my watch.
Caine gives one of his
standard performances, which is not a criticism because he is one of the
better actors around. Law is not bad, but heís not Michael Caine. There
is something unique about Caine. Law is a pretty good actor, but thereís
nothing unique about him. I canít imagine going to a film just to see
Jude Law, and I can imagine going to a film just to see Michael Caine.
Thereís not much else you can say about this film because to tell the
plot is to ruin it for anyone who doesnít know whatís going on.
This is just another good
example of why itís not a good idea to try to remake a film that was
originally made by people like Mankiewicz, Caine, and Olivier. Itís such
a longshot that the remake will be able to live up to the original.
In essence it fails because Michael Caine is no Laurence Olivier and
Jude Law is no Michael Caine.
September 18, 2007