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Jonathan Rhys Meyers,
Will Graham is a gangster who has left the life of crime and is living in the countryside. He comes out of hiding to investigate the death of his brother when he learns that he committed suicide. Charlotte Rampling is his old girlfriend who owns a restaurant. Boad is the villain responsible for the bad things that happened to Will's brother. Written by
Andrea Barney <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Clive Owen had previously worked with Mike Hodges on Croupier (1998). See more »
[first and last lines]
Most thoughts are memories. And memories deceive. The walk. The way he smoked a cigarette. Laughed. The dead are dead. He's gone. What's left to ever say he was here at all? Not much.
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Composed by Simon Fisher-Turner (as Simon Fisher Turner) and Robin Rimbaud
Recorded by Simon Fisher-Turner (as SFT) and Scanner
Published by Mute Song Ltd and 3MV Music Publishing/Big Life Music Ltd
Courtesy of Sulphur Records See more »
Mood, texture and ambiguity in a British crime thriller? You better believe it. ISWID is no conventional revenge thriller. Mike Hodges, whose Get Carter is something of a gold standard for this kind of thing, subverts auidence expectations by producing a similar setup (a ganster related death, the vengeful brother returning to the city to find out what happened) and then proceeding to wrongfoot them by concentrating on the psychological fallout from crime rather than screen violence or genre cliches.
A moody Clive Owen plays Will Graham, a former London gangster who became so full of loathing for his life of murder and criminality that he has rejected it totally having moved away and left behind the trappings of organised crime. 3 years on he leads a reclusive, hermit like existence, surviving on odd jobs and living in the back of a van. When his younger brother Davy is raped by local hood Malcolm McDowell, he kills himself, an event that serves as the catalyst for Will's return to his former life as he attempts to find those responsible but perhaps more importantly why they did it.
This is a dark, thoughtful piece, less concerned with the usual revenge thriller trajectory than the psychological underpinnings of it's subject matter. It's unusual for this type of film to stop and reflect on events rather than just skip to the inevitable confrontation but Hodges pulls it off not least because his London backdrop is a sinister place where social and moral breakdown are continually in the background. The city has a contaminating effect from which Owen has tried to flee. Crime dehumanises everyone here, both victim and gangster. Much of the movie is about Owen's character attempting to resist a return to his former self but as he learns more about his brother's final hours the guard slips and over the course of the film he gradually transforms back to the killer he once was, culminating in a physical and material change toward the end of the film.
It's not a movie that gives you all the answers nor it does it give you everything you expect. You never find out what single event, if any, caused Owen to leave London so you're left to share in the confusion of those around him. It's also unclear what McDowell's relationship is to Rhys Meyers but this simply adds to the sense of unease. In every scene omission suggests hidden layers which force you maintain distance from the characters, making you a less emotion but more thoughtful observer. It could be anticlimatic for those expecting an orgy of bloody revenge, but Hodges would undermine the disguist registered by Owen's character for his violent past by indulging the voyeuristic demands of the audience to witness that violence. The film cuts away from it and introspectively explores its aftermath, not to mention its occasionally tragic inevitablility. Ambiguity is the watchword here because, Hodges suggests, you can't necessarily trust everything you see and hear. "Memories can deceive" Owen's voiceover tells us in the scene that bookends the film, and as everything that follows the introduction is effectively a flashback, we have to consider the possibility that certain scenes are misleading. The focus of the film intially seems to be the rape of Will's brother but this is the hook upon which Hodge's probes the lure and ultimately the consequence of crime. It won't be to everyone's taste but ISWID will have you scrutinising the detail long after you've left the cinema, something which can't be said for too many crime thillers these days.
An unsettling, thought provoking film. Recommended.
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