Thursday, April 22, 2010
DVDebut: Don't miss Malcolm Venville's sleeper 44 INCH CHEST
Sexy Beast appeared a decade back, and the raves -- mostly for Ben Kingsley's over-
the-top performance -- started coming, it was perhaps too easy to overlook the supporting work of actors Ray Winstone and Ian McShane and the screen-
writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto. Now, a relatively new director to movies named Malcolm Venville (shown below), with his first full-length film 44 INCH CHEST, also written by Mellis and Scinto, takes us back to what initially looks like the mob milieu of Sexy Beast but is actually a much more sophisticated and surprising location: the human mind, body and soul.
Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane and John Hurt. Male ensembles don't get much better than this, and the cast delivers every juicy line of dialog, every smile, frown and curse, as though we'd never seen nor heard a bit of it until now. The story involves Colin's wife, who has just told him she must leave him for another man. Winstone runs the gamut in the next few moments. And then all hell breaks loose.
TrustMovies recalls (having read a portion of some of the reviews at the time of the film's limited release: mid-January 2010), mention was made of Sexy Beast and of the plot outline and the vicious and bloody goings-on, with the critical assessment more thumbs down than up and box-office results following suit. (Films like this need critical boosting if they are to take off at all. Even then, few do.) Now that TM has finally seen the film, he's mildly appalled at the misapprehension of what is basically a psychological love/hate story about a rather typical British gangster-type upended and then redeemed by coming to terms with his situation and feelings.
Joanne Whalley (above), an actress we see far too seldom anymore, is as alluring as ever. Even with an added decade and little more weight, she's still a knockout: sexy, gorgeous and able to command the screen whenever she appears. (When will they transfer to DVD one of this woman's great early films, the British TV piece Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? What a wonderful work that is!)
Melvil Poupaud (shown above, left, with Mr Winstone), without (unless I'm mistaken) one word of dialog, is still impressive. You root for him against all hope. The rest of that cast is splendid. Hurt, as a homophobic but sexless senior has some of the saltiest dialog heard in ages ("cunt" is tossed about more often here than I can remember, and each rendition outdoes the last); Wilkinson, who takes good care of his aging mum, adds yet another wonderful character to his gallery of them; Dillane, the youngest and best-looking of the bunch, makes prime use of this, leaving us always a tad off-balance; and McShane -- as an unapologetic gay who's always on the make -- is a delight.