Closing the Ring

Starring Michael Caine and Jude Law. Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Running Time: 88 mins
Rated: Rated M (strong coarse language, infrequent aggressive coarse language, adult themes)

Sleuth is a remake of Anthony Shaffer's play, Sleuth, and the film version directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz in 1972 with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Michael Caine now takes on the Olivier role.

The film has been rewritten for the screen by playwright, Harold Pinter, using the basis of Anthony Shaffer's play, but introducing the dialogue so typical of Pinter himself and his plays like The Birthday Party, The Caretaker... But, whether it works well on screen rather than on stage? And how does Caine compare with Olivier and Law with Caine?

The film is set in a rather lavish modernistic mansion with very few scenes outside the house. The film focuses on a popular novel writer who is visited by a part-time actor who wants to persuade him to give his wife a divorce because the actor is living with her. The actor then plays a psychological and physical game with the visitor. In the second part of the film, the visitor assumes the disguise of a police inspector, and turns the tables on the novelist.

The film is interesting verbally, for its performances, for its sleight of hand with the performance by the actor. It has a rather sudden ending - something of a shock to the system.

Branagh has directed the thriller and mystery, Dead Again. He has followed in Laurence Olivier's footsteps by directing versions of Henry V, Hamlet, and performing as Iago in a screen version of Othello. He also directed versions of Much Ado About Nothing, Loves Labours Lost and As You Like It.

Paramount Out 6 March 2007

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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