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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

This is not a gangster movie but does have great characters and dialogue, a pleasant surprise on video

8/10
Author: (happymonkmusic@aol.com) from London, England
2 July 2001

I missed this film at the cinema due to its mixed reviews. Without entering into the debate about british critics I found myself wondering if I was watching a different. This film was reviewed as a british gangster film which it isn't. It is however very british in its characterisation and dialogue, although there is something continental about it which lifted it out of the mire of other brit flicks for me. It is a black comedy which occasionally makes you laugh out loud and other times is black enough to be "noir". Hans Mattheson plays an unsuccessful market trader called Virgil Guppy who has all the necessary accessories - chic PR-girl girlfriend (Beth Winslet), jaguar car, high flying friends but but doesn't have the portfolio to back it up. In fact it is the Jaguar car which proves to be his down fall when a body is discovered in the boot and he is framed for murder. He is sacked, his girlfriend leaves him - in short he loses everything. Finding himself down and out on the streets he is adopted by a rag-taggle mob of car theives led by Tiffany Shades played by Charlotte Coleman. In what could be her best performance for a good while Coleman is spot on as the enigmatic, sexy and streetwise Tiffany who, together with her nine year old son and his gay bosnian babysitter, help Virgil Guppy get his life back. Matheson is fine in the lead, Beth Winslet proves Kate is not the only Winslet who can act whilst succeeding in being different from her sister, and Coleman is very watchable indeed. This young cast is ably supported by Clive Russel - always good value and Lynda Bellingham - the oxo mum playing a prostitute with a heart of gold. The film is well cast and none of them let the production down. This film won't change your life but it if fun and very watchable. Some of the well written dialogue sticks and many of the scenes stay with you several days later. All in all a very good effort which deserves at the very least to be seen and I urge you to seek it out. I think we will be seeing more from Gareth Rhys Jones and if nothing else Charlotte Coleman is worth the admision alone.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

what more do you want its quality British film beautiful shot

9/10
Author: hotdog7-1 from United Kingdom
19 January 2007

i cant say a negative word about this film as i would obviously be taken it out of context as it is without drought the sort of film the typifies quality direction acting and great moody dialogue not to mention the original scenes. it has no relation to lock stock,its far more left field than that watch this film its great.also the acting is superb charlot Coleman's last film before she tragically died saw a performance second to none. its a shame films like this arnt being made in the uk anymore, talent is hard to come by and films like this and others of this jonrer, this i mean the ones that have the rare power to create atmosphere and this is one of them.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Don't judge a book by its cover

9/10
Author: rustydog-2 from United Kingdom
22 December 2004

"Don't judge a book by its cover." We've all heard that phrase before, and if ever that tried and true proverb needs uttering it's when discussing Gareth Rhys Jones' 1999 directorial debut, Bodywork. I don't know if it was Lions Gate or Avalanche Video who picked the horrendous cover art for this disc, but whoever it was should be taken out back and poked repeatedly with a sharp stick Bodywork has more in common with the quirky storytelling of Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels than anything, and I'm not even sure who those people are on the cover. It looks like the two stars, but there is not a scene anywhere in the film that remotely resembles that shot.

Rhys Jones, who also wrote the screenplay, does a fine job of keeping the quirkiness factor pretty high without becoming too over the top. Much of the plot centres around some genuinely comic sequences, and as such doesn't necessarily come across as particularly true to life. However, like Ritchie, Rhys Jones can present a series of tragic and comic events together in such a way as to make it entertaining, and that works for me. An unexpected murder caused by Q-tips occurs near the film's conclusion, and that is a good representation of some of the typically left-of-centre elements Rhys Jones puts out there. To add to the general tone of strangeness, there are brief moments inter-cut throughout the story where the characters, seated in some antiseptic all-white room, are discussing their relationship with Virgil, and we're not sure until the end (and maybe even then) where they are, or if he is dead or alive. Not as gritty or violent as Ritchie's work, Bodywork does still have a nice mix of eccentric secondary characters that make this film a lot of fun. The late Charlotte Coleman (Four Weddings And A Funeral) is the elfishly cute car thief Tiffany Shades, who is partnered with the wiry crook Legal (Simon Gregor). Peter Moreton, as the son of the unscrupulous car dealer, is one of those comically violent types that always seem on the verge of exploding into a rage. The two investigators, exasperated Scot Sgt. Billy Hunch (Clive Russell) and gun happy Det. Danny Sparks (Grahame Fox) are a couple of extremely funny characters, and I wish these two would have had more screen time.

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0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

An unsatisfying and contrived Brit' crime caper.

1/10
Author: dfcom
23 October 2000

Another weak and contrived Brit' crime drama with comedy aspirations as a group of characters sit in a white room and recall the incidents that led to them coming together starting with the sale of a dodgy motor...

No performance on earth can save what is basically a poorly developed script.

Distinctly unsatisfying.

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Charlotte Coleman, you are deeply missed.

3/10
Author: xfile1971 from Northbrook, IL, USA
16 October 2004

What we have here is yet another undercooked look at criminals in the UK. There is plenty of killing but, hey, it's all okay because just about everyone with a gun is really a good person with a nifty sense of humor. I was especially appalled by the gratuitous murder of a carefree young Buddhist woman. Real nice.

Hans Matheson plays our hero Virgil Guppy. He's pretty bland in the role and his transformation into a confident and cunning crook didn't convince me for a moment. Anyway, the story goes something like this. Virgil buys a Jaguar from a used car dealer. The car breaks down after only 4 miles and he wants his money back. The guy who owns the dealership actually obtains his cars from an auto theft ring and he doesn't like people trying to tell him what to do.

Next thing you know, our hero has been framed for the murder of a prostitute and he now needs to find out who the real killer is before he's locked away.

Virgil ends up getting hit by a car which is driven by Tiffany, played by the marvelous Charlotte Coleman. Surprise of surprises, she steals cars for a living and often deals with the guy who owns the aforementioned dealership. Well, that guy is soon murdered and the bodies keep piling up.

I guess if you're into the whole humorous British petty (or not so petty) criminal genre then you won't be offended by anything you see here. It's all rather tame and except for the Buddhist's murder there is nothing shocking. The humor is, of course, quite dry and draws the occasional laugh. Charlotte Coleman is the stand out performance here. She is at once strong, charming, determined, touching and beautiful. Her character is the only one the viewer actually cares about and she showed what a stunning actress she truly was.

When the true murderer is revealed, it is disappointing to say the least when their motive is given. "Because I can." That should give you an idea of just how much thought went into this screenplay. I was mildly entertained but nothing more. 3/10

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

It's got the attitude, but it's a little trite ... maybe a lot trite

Author: (rsyed@sas.upenn.edu) from Philadelphia
26 August 1999

Basically LOCK, STOCK, AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS meets TRAINSPOTTING. And as labored as that combination sounds -- and the film does suffer from numerous forced moments -- there are some genuine instances of under-your-skin verve and inventiveness . especially a particularly gruesome homicide facilitated by Q-Tips. Not pretty. And the lead actor, a cross between Brad Pitt and Ewan McGregor, is guaranteed to make teenage girls everywhere salivate, presuming he ever works again.

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0 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Worst film released in 2000 easily

Author: Robin Kelly from Birmingham, England
6 June 2001

Contains some spoilage

I have never seen a film made from such a bad screenplay. Never. First drafts are often shot in the UK but Bodywork's script isn't nearly competent enough to be called a first draft.

I've tried to make excuses for Gareth Rhys Jones. Perhaps he couldn't afford screenwriting courses or books - or Internet access to get free courses and books on the web. But when it comes down to it there is no excuse.

The script has so many flaws that it would be easier to list what it gets right rather than list all that's wrong. On the plus side the characters are distinctive and the hero undergoes a change. That's it. Unfortunately the characters and the hero's change are still shockingly unrealistic and badly done.

The film is promoted as being about someone being framed for murder. If you wanted to get rid of Virgil would you a) kill Virgil or b) kill an innocent stranger instead and frame Virgil for the murder so he goes to prison? The entire world chooses a) but Rhys Jones chooses b). Just when you're trying to work out why the antagonist would do something like that he's been killed. Does this set the movie off in a radical new direction? Not exactly. He was killed by a new antagonist doing exactly the same thing - killing people to incriminate our hero. (Although revealingly on the official website Rhys Jones calls this new killer a 'protagonist')

When we find out who the baddie is and they're asked why they did it - they say "because I can". That's it. That's the reason. That's how little Rhys Jones cares about his audience.

The one thing that can help save a badly plotted film is the dialogue but even that is beyond awful. It's dull and on-the-nose and sometimes very embarrassing especially in the "white room" - where we flashback from - as the characters talk about their relationship with the hero.

Screenwriting of such low standards doesn't deserve the quality cast it managed to attract and it certainly doesn't deserve an audience. The only people who should see this film are casting agents.

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