44 Inch Chest
How many hard men does it take to catch a cuckold? Five, it would seem, and they all seem to resemble Britain’s best character actors. Step forward Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Dillane. When car-dealing old lag Colin Diamond comes home from work one day, his beloved (Joanne Whalley) tells him she has met someone else. The ensuing fallout leads to lover boy (Melvil Poupaud) being locked in a cupboard while the East End’s finest cogitate on revenge and murder.
Touted as a follow up of sorts to Sexy Beast (it shares the same writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto and stars Winstone and McShane), 44 Inch Chest is actually a very different animal. Dialogue heavy and set bound, 44 Inch Chest broadly appropriates Nic Roeg and Donald Cammell’s Borgesian identity thriller Performance via Harold Pinter at his most foul-mouthed. It’s a fairly stagy actor’s piece and this bunch are more than up for the job. The pleasures are incidental or theatrical and the plot is thin and largely meditative. As such the film ultimately disappoints but Dillane does a fine job keeping up with the old boys and Angelo Badalamenti’s score is one of his finest. It’s McShane though who steals the show, more or less reprising his role in Sexy Beast as the queerest and brutal of fences.
Out now on general release. See profile.