Movie: Sleuth (2007)
My Rating: 2 stars
Ugh. Why did I do this to myself? Well, it’s probably because this movie was described as a slow-burn, closed-room, psychological thriller. And, that sounds pretty exciting, right? It’s a story about an older, wealthy gentleman (Michael Caine), confronting, the sexy, young hunk (Jude Law) who is having an affair with his wife. It’s supposed to be an intellectual cat and mouse game. Tables are turned, advantage changes hands, the plot thickens. But, the movie turned out to be embarrassingly bad.
Now I understand that this story is a remake of a 1972 film, starring Michael Caine in the young lover role, and Lawrence Olivier as the husband. This 2007 version is a novelty recreation because it stars Michael Caine again, but now in the role of the older, scorned gentleman. But, the movie was written by playwright Harold Pinter, and it really feels like a stage play—like there was almost no adaptation for the screen. And, the effect feels affected rather than charming. Sets feel unnaturally stagnant, the dialogue feels a like composed banter, twists feel absurdly contrived. In fact, these so-called “twists” are so glaringly obvious, that I almost thought that there must be something more going on, because surely the filmmakers didn’t mean for the characters to be so forehead-slappingly dense. Nope. Apparently they did. But, I guess it’s the kind of thing that would have worked on a stage—a medium that relies a lot less on clear visuals than film. On stage, we really do rely on the characters’ painstaking exposition. But, in this film, the meticulous dialogue feels like overkill, and the close-up camera shots really ruin the big reveals.
I supposed this movie wasn’t meant for me. I think this movie was intended for the nostalgia seeking set. It’s for people who loved Michael Caine as the sexy, young hunk from the 1972 film, and who are seeking the novelty of seeing the script flipped. I just found the whole thing hard to watch. It’s never a good sign when I start to get really fidgety during a screening. The clumsy machinations kept taking me out of the story so that I couldn’t even enjoy it for the artistic novelty that it was. I don’t think I recommend this movie to anyone who’d be watching it for the thriller element. I guess there might be a few film students or historians that might get a kick out of it. But, I think that the casual viewer might find the movie as frustrating as I did.