Sleuth
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  • Sleuth
    The is awesome. Keeps you on the edge of your seat. The intensity keeps you engaged. The professional critics that rate these movies, need to get new jobs. These two actors are fantastic together....more info
  • Mesmerizing Film in Every Way
    Watching Sleuth, with Jude Law and Michael Caine is a totally stunning experience. I felt I did not breath through the whole film. There are several plot twists that caught me off guard even though I had read many of the reviews. The surprises make for an exciting roller-coaster ride. The camera work and the set was sleek and clean in a way I had never seen before. Often the focus was on objects in the room or parts of actor's bodies or faces during dialog. These altered perspectives cause the viewer to hear the words more clearly. It is hard to describe the relationship that develops between the two men except to say it is the ultimate pissing contest. It is a relatively short film that packs a big punch. Check it out. ...more info
  • Intellectually Stimulating
    Having not seen the first movie myself I have read conflicting messages from the reviewers as to whether that is a disadvantage or adds to the experience.. Whichever it is I can only say I truly enjoyed the dialogue so much that the plot and storyline became secondary.

    Excellent acting from both Caine and Law. I think the reviews are too tainted by preconceived views and expectations from the previous movie. Be true to the acting experience and you will not be able to give it 1 Star will you?

    If you are looking for brilliant lines, British understated politeness & humor and excellent wit this is a movie to see...more info
  • It Is What It Is...
    .
    I just saw this film on DVD, having missed it last Fall: even in Los Angeles it was at the theater for only a brief time. I had been waiting in eager anticipation for the DVD. Am I disappointed? No. Did I like it? Absolutely. Is it a perfect film? Not quite. Is it flawed? Marginally.

    Only a very ill-informed person would not know of the 1972 film of the same title. Sleuth And this is part of the problem, for the plot turns on a surprise twist which will be no surprise if one has seen the earlier film. In other words, if you already know what's going to happen, well, let's just say the fictive required suspension of disbelief becomes a much bigger hurdle.

    And then again, there's something about the pace and choreography of the film: it seems a little off beat, meaning it's either too fast, or misses the beat--but this too may be due to my excessive familiarly with the earlier masterpiece. I saw it at the theater when it d¨¦buted, and I've owned the original DVD issue for years: in fact, I watch it at least every six months. Sleuth

    The original film has much more humour: it floats lighter on the wing. The original film was a much "richer" film; this one is very sleek and minimalistic. And this film of course has a much harder edge--as one would expect in the 21st Century. Both films have exquisite set design--no doubt about that: there's plenty to look at always. The sound track is okay; but the sound track for the original was excellent. Harold Pinter is one of our finest playwrights of the English language--(along with David Mamet The Spanish Prisoner Heist The Winslow Boy ). Pinter's dialogue is like the original Anthony Schaffer play run through a sieve: all the parts are there, but much of the ornate sparkle is lost--again, 21st Century minimalism, etc.

    I've always loved Michael Caine and of course he was superb in the original. Here he's pretty good--and gets better in the later-half of the film. Nevertheless, there's something about the pacing and the dialogue which compares unfavorably with the original.

    Jude Law is one of our finest actors, period. (He was especially perfect as Bosie Douglas in Wilde Wilde (Special Edition). He was excellent in the first half of The Talented Mr. Ripley The Talented Mr. Ripley. He was pretty good in Cold Mountain Cold Mountain (Two-Disc Collector's Edition).) He is the star here: uniformly excellent throughout, but especially good in the second half.

    If a viewer can see this film as an independent work of art s/he may enjoy it more. If the viewer is too familiar with the original, he may be marginally disappointed.

    By the way, I didn't find anything exceptional about Branagh's directing (cf. Shackleton - The Greatest Survival Story of All Time (3-Disc Collector's Edition) Conspiracy ), the cinematography, nor the editing. Still, the set design is outstanding in a creepy, minimalistic, sterile sort of way.

    5-stars for some kind of artistic/intellectual effort
    ....more info
  • Condemn Them, For They Know Not What They Do
    The original was a slice of perfection, this is a pile of steaming dung. Have I been unnecessarily vague? Let me try again: this film was a waste of their talents and my time and money. It should be listed in Webster's as an antonym for the word "entertainment." Take a pig's carcass, coat it in chicken droppings, then put it in a dumpster for the entire month of July and it won't stink 1/10th as much as this insult to filmmakers everywhere, past, present and future. P.U.!!!...more info
  • A mixed bag, but worth seeing
    Jude Law's double role as the Scotland Yard inspector is worth the whole movie. Watch it for that, if nothing more. The Harold Pinter script is clever at times, but the end is ambiguous. It's a very talky movie, and the gay angle towards the end is just weird. Who is in charge is the movie's central plot theme. There's a lot of witty banter. Michael Caine is great, as usual. It's like a play because it's based on one. See it....more info
  • Falling flat
    Another disappointing remake. What are remakes good for anyway? I remember the original fondly, an endless mental fight between Olivier and Caine. The remake has Caine and Law. The new script is by Pinter, who proves again that he is another one who should definitely not have been awarded the Nobel prize for literature. Maybe for something else. Chemistry? Just kidding.
    The new version is essentially vulgar. Jude Law manages to let you forget that he is playing a part. One takes this bloke for the real man. Must be a sign of a good actor. Still. Caine is doing fine, he is what he is and does what he does.
    Definitely superfluous....more info
  • War of Wits
    Those familiar with the deliciously over-the-top 1972 version of Sleuth, which pitted legendary Laurence Olivier against a lean-and-hungry Michael Caine, may rightly wonder, why bother? They already got this one right. The play by Anthony Shaffer was a clever bit of gamesmanship -- a sort of country manor "cozy" mixed with a black comedy of manners spiced by dashes of Grand Guignol theatricality -- and it was played to the hilt by Lord Larry and his upstart challenger, Caine. Great hambone fun, check it out if you haven't seen it.

    As if to compensate for the inevitable 'why bother' factor, the remake brings some heavyweights to the ring. In a neat reversal, we now have Michael Caine in the role of Elder Statesman and Jude Law (who filled Caine's shoes in a tepid remake of Alfie a few years back) looking to prove his mettle. Kenneth Branagh sits in the director's chair and the script is by a not-too-obscure scribe named Harold Pinter. The movie almost collapses under the weight of that line-up, but audiences ready to rumble with a cynical exercise in style, wit, and showmanship may get malicious pleasure out of the proceedings.

    Caine and Law, two wonderful actors routinely hired to add prestige to Hollywood piffle, are clearly having a grand ol' time tearing into each other. Caine, with his hooded eyes and horsey choppers, looks like he could literally eat Jude Law for lunch. When it comes to performance, he just about does -- the effect is like watching Law endure an 86-minute Master's Workshop in acting. But it'd be wrong to assume that Law rolls over and plays dead. He's an awfully good actor in his own right (as "Gattaca" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley" attest) and he comes out (and goes down) swinging. But for my money, Caine, with his expert timing and nuanced delivery, wins this match in a tiebreak.

    Watching two fine actors do their best playing two nasty characters doing their worst is a guilty pleasure. "Sleuth" succeeds as an exercise in pure style. The slick set design, kooky camerawork, and acting pyrotechnics--not to mention the Pinter-provided repartee--kept my mind engaged even as I lost all interest in the human element of the drama. As the action escalates and the two Alpha males (Alfie males? Haha...sorry) engage in a Pissing Contest of epic proportions, Pinter injects an unexpected element completely absent from the 1972 version. While the first go-round played with the idea of British class-consciousness by pairing aristocratic Olivier and Cockney Caine, this update has a lot more to say about gender roles and the crisis of masculinity (surprise, surprise, coming from Pinter)....more info
  • Fantastic
    To anyone considering seeing the film, let me just say from the start: I loved it. I had not seen the 1972 version prior, and I'm glad I hadn't. The 2007 version is a very stylized work of art, like one of Wyke's sculptures. At first I found the direction and cinematography distracting, as everything seemed to be happening offscreen, but as the story developted, I felt that it added a very cool layer to the story, especially in relation to the final scenes of the film. I LOVED the characters by the end of the film, especially Jude Law's Milo. Both characters had moments where you can sort of sense the artifice....and you come to realize that that's excatly what it is. Overall, a great mystery and a dynamic character piece.

    As for the DVD, I highly reccommend purchasing the complete DVD if you want to see this film. I was considering purchasing a digital download, but I am so happy to have been able to view the director and actor interviews and commentary after watching the film. They answered a lot of the questions I had, and explained a lot of the choices that they made. Let's just say, you see a lot more the second time around.

    Absolutely 5 stars, but it's clearly a movie for those who want "intellectual excitement. Intellectual...stimulation."...more info
  • movie lover
    I saw sleuth when it came to Dallas in November. I loved it. Both Jude and Michael are giving one of their best performances to date. The dialoge between these two men is very intelligent. I am not into revenge myself however, it plays very closely to how this would actually play out if it happened in real life. I am also a big Harold Pinter fan. I can not wait for the dvd to be released on March 11,2008....more info
  • Battle of the Minds
    I thought this movie started out really well. The whitty banter between Caine and Jude Law was very entertaining and very funny. But the movie just kind of lost me after a while. It kind of became tired and monotonous.

    Worth a watch but not a great movie....more info
  • It's No Mystery Why This Remake Pales in Comparison
    I don't know if I would go so far as to call the original film version of "Sleuth" a classic, but it is a darn good film and features virtuoso performances from Sir Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.

    Approximately a year ago, I heard of the plans to remake "Sleuth". Groan. Can't they at least try to come up with a new idea in Hollywood? Change the character's names and the title and call something it new? Why mess with a classic? Then, I remembered the original is a very good film, but not a classic. Michael Caine and Jude Law were signed to play the roles Olivier and Caine originated. This could be interesting. Michael Caine appearing in both versions? My interest was piqued. When I heard Kenneth Branagh was directing from a Harold Pinter screenplay, I was hooked.

    The new version has some good things going for it, but the bad things far outweigh the good making "Sleuth (2007)" a disappointment.

    Milo Tindle (Law), an out-of-work actor, arrives at the estate of Andrew Wyke (Caine), a hugely successful mystery novelist. Wyke has summoned the young man to discuss the affair he is having with his wife. Milo insists Wyke's wife is leaving him and Wyke is only too glad to let her go, he has a mistress of his own. But he wants the separation and divorce to be permanent; he doesn't want his ex-wife running back to him when Milo's money runs out. Wyke suggests Milo `break' into the house and steal some jewels worth One Million Pounds. Wyke has the name of a fence who will give Milo 800,000 pounds for the jewels and that should last them a while. Andrew has thought of everything. Milo agrees and Wyke uses his home's elaborate electronics and surveillance system to guide him through the process, to make it seem real. But it wouldn't seem real unless Wyke found the robber and defended his home would it?

    "Sleuth" originated as a play and it showcases two characters who play a game of verbal and psychological cat and mouse, sparring with one another, trying to gain the upper hand. In the new version, there are many changes, many of which benefit the overall film.

    As Milo drives up to Wyke's house, Branagh introduces us to the elaborate security system the multi-millionaire has installed in his country estate. Milo's car triggers an alarm at the gate and his every move is caught on surveillance camera - there doesn't seem to be a centimeter of the expansive grounds he wouldn't be able to see on one of the system's surveillance screens.

    As Milo attempts the `break-in', Wyke watches him every step of the way, directing him as he watches his adversary's every move. And Tindle gets caught up in the game, using his acting skills to become a `burglar'.

    The new version of this film is about half as long as the original was. And this benefits the new film. Because of the length, the original version seems even more stagey; to watch two actors facing off against one another for the entire length of a film running about two and a half hours doesn't help the film escape its stage roots. The new version is about 90 minutes long allowing it to move at a faster clip, giving us less time to think about the fact we are simply watching two actors on screen the whole time.

    It is also interesting to watch Caine take on the other role in the story. Michael Caine is one of the best actors of our time, but to see him play the other side of the coin provides for an interesting look at his career. He portrays Andrew Wyke in a suitably devious way. As the story progresses, we see shades of his anger, his relief, his amusement, all qualities we would expect to see in a famous mystery novelist.

    And that is where the benefits of "Sleuth (2007)" end.

    When Milo drives up to the large country estate, we expect the two actors to face off in a huge, expansive maze. The original film provided a huge country house for the two actors to chase each other through. Of course, this provides an advantage to Andrew (played by Olivier in the original) because he knows the various secrets of his expansive home. When Milo (Law) drives up to the estate in this new version, I had high hopes. It appears to be the exact same type of home. Then, he enters the house and we immediately see the hand of Andrew's wife in the ridiculous modern furniture and design. Initially, the house seems unusual and interesting. We soon realize the two actors are moving through a series of four rooms. What happened to the rest of the estate? This setting appears to be little more than a luxury apartment in some swank new building. It seems very small and claustrophobic. And very `play-like'.

    For a while, the shorter length seems to benefit the film. But as Law's Milo Tindle becomes more engrossed in the story, the actor becomes less and less convincing. Law seems to think he needs to scream, shout and act like an actor in a horror film in order to get his character across, almost as though he is rushing through all of his character's emotions. You could put some orange glaze on Law and serve him at Easter dinner. His hammy performance is even more egregious when you watch him act with Caine. Caine is an accomplished actor and can make even the most over the top performance seem more natural. Andrew is an interesting character and Caine imbues him with calmness, making him more believable. Law, on the other hand, seems possessed by the devil as he grins maniacally and chews the scenery.

    In the original, Tindle is a hairdresser, in this new version, an out-of-work actor. Yet, oddly, Wyke refers to the younger man as a hairdresser a few times. Is this a mistake? Did Pinter simply forget to replace all of the references to `hairdresser' when he copied the original script? Is this meant to be a put down?

    If you are going to remake a well-known film, and rework the story, make sure it works. The beauty of the original is it is basically two stories and the two characters change their roles. In the first half, one man has the upper hand. In the second, the other does. In Pinter's version, one man has the upper hand. Then the other. Then later, the other regains the advantage. Oh, wait, maybe not. It goes back and forth, almost on a whim, and the game of cat and mouse loses focus and doesn't make sense. There is also a ludicrous plot development late in the story which does nothing to help Law's performance, only exaggerating all of the bad elements of his style.

    "Sleuth (2007)" is a big disappointment. Rent the original and watch two actors at the top of their game spar against one another.


    ...more info
  • A wonderful innovation on the original
    In film theory, the visuals of a motion picture are supposed to do all the talking. We're shown stories, rather than having them told to us, so how rare it is that a movie like Sleuth comes along without much need for more than words. Visuality is the garnish to dialogue; all the action is suggested or assumed by words--a filmic rarity.

    Few directors are able to work under such restraint. David Mamet (House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner) is certainly the champion of this atypical quality; each of his pictures is punctuated with incomparably smart writing and dialogue. With Sleuth, Kenneth Branagh, thespian actor and director of such Shakespearian masterpieces like Hamlet (1996) and Henry V (1989), as well as the notoriously underseen thriller Dead Again (1991), works under Mamet-type rules of cinema, showing us little but telling us everything.

    Branagh's Sleuth is a remake of a 1972 film, based on a play by Anthony Shaffer. In both pictures, wealthy introvert novelist Andrew Wyke is paid a visit by Milo Tindle, the man having an affair with Wyke's wife. Tindle asks Wyke to grant his wife a divorce so that they might happily run away together. But Wyke has an alternate solution, which involves walking Tindle through a robbery of Wyke's home, allowing Tindle to afford Mrs. Wyke's expensive tastes. Wyke makes out because he gets the insurance money; Tindle gets Mrs. Wyke, as well as a bundle of cash from stolen jewels.

    In the original, Sir Lawrence Olivier played Wyke, and a young Michael Caine was Tindle. Here, Caine advances to the Wyke role, and Jude Law plays Tindle. Law already rethought Caine's Alfie a few years back to no avail; but under Branagh's direction, Law proves himself resourceful in such a demanding role, worthy of this remake. And of course Caine, one of the finest actors working today, surpasses his performance in the first. I can't explain how or why these two actors excel in their roles, only because it would give away plot points I would rather not divulge. It's enough to say that games are played between Wyke and Tindle.

    The 1972 version of Anthony Shaffer's play was adapted to film (director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's last) by Shaffer himself, keeping all of the bravado dialogue from his stage production in tact. More substance resides in the original, with further conversation spreading out the two roles like the unfurling of a detailed tapestry. These showy conversations are like special effects to a blockbuster, each quip an explosion, every witticism a bit of CGI. The running time on the original lasted 138 minutes, not one moment of it dull.

    Branagh's significantly shorter picture likewise evades the mundane, although cuts down on the game between our two competitors. Instead of wordsmithing complicated insults and insinuation, allusions are brief and sharp, even direct, insomuch that their intimations are hidden between an express layer of metaphor and assumption. Branagh also pays great attention to how Wyke's house, where the entire story takes place, is conceived with post-modern style. Blue lights, like something out of a disco club, seem to give an otherwise plain setting a new-age glow. Every object or piece of furniture, in fact, has a radiance humming beneath it. Several scenes are shown through Wyke's elaborate security system, in night-vision, or in black and white, keeping the entire picture more than simply a play on film. Branagh's innovations interestingly retool Mankiewicz's picture, which filled Wyke's home with books and statues and paintings, like a Cabinet of Curiosities or minor museum.

    This time around, Shaffer's play is reimagined by playwright and screenwriter Harold Pinter (The Caretaker, Tea Party). Pinter brings an additional, ambiguous layer to the opponents' game. In the original, Wyke plays his game, and then Tindle his. Both aim at each other, their game undeviating and always threatening. Pinter offers a third act, taking off from where Shaffer's original material ended. And while Shaffer's two games serve clear winners, even closure, Pinter's third unquestionably offers none.

    If it weren't for the original Sleuth's superb simplicity of character, Branagh's remake might have received a four-star review. As is, it seems somehow post-modern and untraditional when compared to the Agatha Christie-esque succinctness Shaffer's screenplay brings. Nevertheless, this is a capably envisioned picture, one of the few worthy remakes based on a classic. [...]...more info