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2 items from 1997


Film review: 'Gentlemen Don't Eat' Because of a production error, an incomplete version of this review appeared in our March 14-16 edition. It is printed here in its entirety.

17 March 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Making his first big-screen outing since 1988's "Stormy Monday", Sting plays a devious butler who wreaks havoc in an odd British household in the provocatively titled "Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets".

Produced by and co-starring Trudie Styler (Mrs. Sting), the darkly satirical yarn conjures up works ranging from Joseph Losey's "The Servant" to Pasolini's "Teorema" to Sting's "Brimstone and Treacle".

While the influences are all readily apparent, "Gentlemen", marking the feature debut of documentary filmmaker John-Paul Davidson, struggles throughout to find the right black-comic pitch and never really gets there.

The half-baked proceedings nevertheless remain watchable thanks to a couple of sharply amusing performances by seasoned pros Alan Bates and Anna Massey, but the LIVE Entertainment release will unlikely work up much of an appetite during its select-site run.

Set in a crumbling rural English estate circa 1949, the picture inhabits a world where all its characters bear quaintly bizarre names and exhibit similarly eccentric traits.

The lord of the dusty manor, Sir Hugo Coal (Bates), is an amateur paleontologist whose radical theories of evolution consume his daily routine at the expense of his neglected American wife, Harriet (Theresa Russell).

But that routine is about to be rudely interrupted with the arrival of the new butler, the diabolic but charismatic Fledge (Sting), and his quiet, alcoholic wife, Doris (Styler).

In short order, Fledge attends to Sir Hugo's wife's long-overlooked amorous needs and seduces Sidney Giblet (Steven Mackintosh), a sensitive poet and intended betrothed of Sir Hugo's daughter, Cleo (Lena Headey).

Soon after, Giblet goes missing, and an investigation is launched by his mother (Massey) and her friend Livinia Freebody (Maria Aitken).

Their findings aren't pretty. Giblet was murdered and his remains fed to Sir Hugo's pigs, who were subsequently slaughtered and served to the Coals and their dinner guests.

Cleo suspects Fledge, although Sir Hugo has never made secret his disdain for the late poet.

There's certainly a willing cast. Sting more or less sneers his way through his restrained performance, and Russell seems to be working out her accent as she goes along.

But Bates is terrific as the obsessed Sir Hugo, taking the self-consciously quirky dialogue and making it unmistakably his own. Hearing him spit out the word "poet" with utter disgust is a particular hoot. Likewise, Massey, as the unflappable, not-exactly-grieving mother of the deceased, has fun with the language, knowing how to mine humor out of the most innocent of adjectives.

The look of the film is also amusing, thanks to the imaginative work of Oscar-nominated production designer Jan Roelfs and Oscar-nominated costumer Colleen Atwood.

GENTLEMEN DON'T EAT POETS

LIVE Entertainment

Producer Trudie Styler

Director John-Paul Davidson

Screenwriter Patrick McGrath

Based on a novel by Patrick McGrath

Executive producer Stephen Evans

Director of photography Andrew Dunn

Production designer Jan Roelfs

Editor Tariq Anwar

Costume designers Colleen Atwood,

Graham Churchyard

Music Anne Dudley

Color/stereo

Cast:

Sir Hugo Coal Alan Bates

Lady Harriet Coal Theresa Russell

Fledge Sting

Cleo Coal Lena Headey

Sidney Giblet Steven Mackintosh

Mrs. Giblet Anna Massey

Doris Fledge Trudie Styler

Livinia Freebody Maria Aitken

Sir Edward Cleghorn Sir John Mills

Running time -- 98 minutes

MPAA rating: R

»

Permalink | Report a problem


Film review: 'Gentlemen Don't Eat'

14 March 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Making his first big-screen outing since 1988's "Stormy Monday", Sting plays a devious butler who wreaks havoc in an odd British household in the provocatively titled "Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets".

Produced by and co-starring Trudie Styler (Mrs. Sting), the darkly satirical yarn conjures up works ranging from Joseph Losey's "The Servant" to Pasolini's "Teorema" to Sting's previous "Brimstone and Treacle". While the influences are all readily apparent, "Gentlemen", marking the feature debut of documentary filmmaker John-Paul Davidson, struggles throughout to find the right black-comic pitch and never really gets there.

The half-baked proceedings nevertheless remain watchable thanks to a couple of sharply amusing performances by seasoned pros Alan Bates and Anna Massey, but the LIVE Entertainment release will unlikely work up much of an appetite during its select-site run.

Set in a crumbling rural English estate circa 1949, the picture inhabits a world where all its characters bear quaintly bizarre names and exhibit similarly eccentric traits. The lord of the dusty manor, Sir Hugo Coal (Bates), is an amateur paleontologist whose radical theories of evolution consume his daily routine at the expense of his neglected American wife, Harriet (Theresa Russell).

But that routine is about to be rudely interrupted with the arrival of the new butler, the diabolic but charismatic Fledge (Sting), and his quiet, alcoholic wife, Doris (Styler). In short order, Fledge attends to Sir Hugo's wife's long-overlooked amorous needs and seduces Sidney Giblet (Steven Mackintosh), a sensitive poet and intended betrothed of Sir Hugo's daughter, Cleo (Lena Headey).

Soon after, Giblet goes missing, and an investigation is launched by his mother (Massey) and her friend Livinia Freebody (Maria Aitken). Their findings aren't pretty. Giblet was murdered and his remains fed to Sir Hugo's pigs, who were subsequently slaughtered and served to the Coals and their dinner guests. Cleo suspects Fledge, although Sir Hugo has never made secret his disdain for the late poet.

There's certainly a willing cast. Sting more or less sneers his way through his restrained performance, and Russell seems to be working out her accent as she goes along. But Bates is terrific as the obsessed Sir Hugo, taking the self-consciously quirky dialogue and making it unmistakably his own. Hearing him spit out the word "poet" with utter disgust is a particular hoot. Likewise, Massey, as the unflappable, not-exactly-grieving mother of the deceased, has fun with the language, knowing how to mine humor out of the most innocent of adjectives.

The look of the film is also amusing, thanks to the imaginative work of Oscar-nominated production designer Jan Roelfs and Oscar-nominated costumer Colleen Atwood.

GENTLEMEN DON'T EAT POETS

LIVE Entertainment

Producer Trudie Styler

Director John-Paul Davidson

Screenwriter Patrick McGrath

Based on a novel by Patrick McGrath

Executive producer Stephen Evans

Director of photography Andrew Dunn

Production designer Jan Roelfs

Editor Tariq Anwar

Costume designers Colleen Atwood,

Graham Churchyard

Music Anne Dudley

Color/stereo

Cast:

Sir Hugo Coal Alan Bates

Lady Harriet Coal Theresa Russell

Fledge Sting

Cleo Coal Lena Headey

Sidney Giblet Steven Mackintosh

Mrs. Giblet Anna Massey

Doris Fledge Trudie Styler

Livinia Freebody Maria Aitken

Sir Edward Cleghorn Sir John Mills

Running time -- 98 minutes

MPAA rating: R

»

Permalink | Report a problem


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2 items from 1997


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