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Sleuth More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The Michael Caine show...

Author: ttydrukk from Estonia
22 April 2008

I just finished watching that movie and it left me with a certain feeling. It is one of those movies where you need another day or two to put everything together, see the details within a bigger picture. Sleuth feels like a play I could truly see those actors on a stage, using the house as their stage. I have not seen the original which is a shame but i love Mr Caine and once again he plays the character with a wonderful depth, he becomes that character. Well Jude wasn't bad either, it was refreshing seeing him not crying like a baby for once..don't get me wrong, I am a fan of his work, but after movies as The Holiday, it was nice to see him in a role with more versatile. I particularly enjoyed that relationship between those two that love/hate the homosexual/intellectual connection. The music was fitting and gave the film its style. But the movie lacked of wit and even the silent moments when you just sink into the eyes of Michael Caine don't add up to a superb movie but a refreshing change from the forgettable flicks out there. It is a must see for the fans of the 2 main actors.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Writer vs. Actor: a mixture of clever lines, blue and games

Author: invernikz from Romania
2 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I remember coming across Sleuth during a random trailer search. What instantly attracted me was the title: simple and quite odd. Then I looked into the cast. "Starring: Michael Caine and Jude Law" sounded very promising although I doubted the excitement of the story since there would only be 2 characters on the screen. Finally I saw the movie and remained speechless.

Each scene is of unpredictable nature, you can never know for sure what's next. The plot is basically a dangerously fun game played by two men, over the ultimate prize: a promiscuous beautiful woman. If you can slide into the characters' skins, there is a variety of moods to experience. Anger, vulnerability, laughter, panic, naivety, manipulation and many more burst onto the screen as Andrew Wike, the husband, comes face to face with Milo Tindle, the lover.

Less violence and more mind games attach an obvious color to the motion picture, which is radiant blue - trust me, you'll notice. The suspense doesn't kill you but it does raise questions as the dialogue develops. The one that occurred to me often throughout the movie was "Who's playing who now?" Final blow stated final answer.

If analyzed, "Sleuth" is complex and hard to follow. If enjoyed, it offers 86 minutes of challenging entertainment worth its while. Enjoy.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Very disappointing

Author: Ric-7 from New Orleans LA
27 March 2008

I think other commentators have identified the problem--Harold Pinter. I'd say that this remake was perhaps 25% Shaffer and 75% Pinter. It's such that if the title and characters' names were changed, I'd say Pinter would have no copyright problems from Shaffer.

The surveillance camera motif became very, very tiresome. Had the actors been less accomplished, I probably would not have minded; but if you are going to have great performances, you should be allowed to see the great performances.

I am very thankful that the current film was much shorter than the original--but at what cost was this brevity accomplished? The game-playing degenerated into a psychosexual drama, losing all connection with the title and theme--Sleuth. What does gigolo rental have to do with sleuthing? I would have no problem at all with a film about gay rental boys, but just don't pretend it's Sleuth.

I can only hope no one asks Pinter to write a new screenplay for Citizen Kane.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A redefined concept of power play

Author: Max_cinefilo89 from Italy
29 February 2008

Get Carter, Alfie, The Italian Job: all renowned and praised British films, all starring Michael Caine, all remade to questionable effect by Hollywood (the Stallone-starring rehash of Carter got the biggest kicking). And now comes Sleuth, a re-imagining of the 1972 thriller where Caine squared off with Sir Laurence Olivier. Sacrilege, some might say. But fear not: Kenneth Branagh's version of Anthony Shaffer's story (rewritten by Harold Pinter) is actually good. Not a masterpiece, but interesting and well executed.

Of course, the juiciest detail surrounding the new Sleuth is Caine's presence in Olivier's role, while his old part is taken by Jude Law (who also starred in the Alfie remake). The setting is a mansion in the English countryside, filled with all sorts of technological prodigies. It is here that Andrew Wyke (Caine), a successful novelist, lives and spends all of his time, and it is here that he one day receives a visit from Milo Tindle (Law), the struggling actor and part-time hairdresser who is having an affair with Mrs. Wyke. As they are both (supposedly) civilized men, a deal is arranged: Milo will stage a break-in, take some valuable jewels and live happily ever after with his lady friend, who apparently is a bit of a pain in Andrew's ass. Soon enough, though, the poor fella realizes the calculating writer is up to something else, which involves anything except the adulterous couple's happiness. Thus begins a duel of wits between the experienced Andrew and the unprepared Milo, a fight that consists of verbal blows rather than physical, even though things might turn ugly come the end of the day.

The most intriguing aspect of Sleuth is how Branagh and Pinter have approached the text: the former visualizes the script by transforming Andrew's house into a third character of sorts, and for a large part of the film's first half (including the entire opening sequence and following five minutes) the two stars are seen only as a reflection in a mirror or monitored by a camera, adding a post-modern vein of satire (the image-dominated society) to the movie's tone; the latter structures the rich screenplay so that the conflict at its center can be read as more than just a mere quarrel between a cheated husband and the wife's lover.

On one level, it is a battle of almost Darwinian nature, one that is fought to determine who is fittest to survive. "You do know what an adaptation is, don't you"? Andrew asks Milo, referring to the TV versions of his novels. That line isn't just a sly nod to Pinter's effort (adapting an existing play and movie for a 21st century update), but also to a characteristic of all living creatures: to adapt to new circumstances so that one can overcome obstacles with ease. It's no coincidence the two rivals are a writer and an actor: the two professions encompass the double significance of the word "adaptation" like few others.

But above all, the picture is a duel between two great actors, Caine's cinematic restraint finding its match in Law's more theatrical exaggerations (which are, however, part of the role). Either thespian deserves plaudits for various reasons, but in the end it is Caine who emerges as the winner, thanks to his deeper knowledge of the story and his ability to adapt (there it is again) to the new situation (and the new character).

Still, the impeccable double act can't entirely compensate the movie's fall into a narrative dead end of sorts in the third act, although it is true that finding a satisfactory conclusion to a tale as full of twists as this one is near impossible (which is also why Law should abandon his plans to play Andrew in a third version of the film, sometime around 2042). Thankfully, the plot does get back on track in the last few minutes, once again thanks to Caine.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:


Author: petit76 from United States
22 April 2008

"If thou canst cuckold him, thou dost thyself a pleasure, me a sport." Iago in Shakespeare's Othello Anthony Shaffer's brother, Peter, was famously about "What's that all about?" if you remember the mysteries of Equus. Playwright Anthony's Sleuth also requires a competent literary "sleuth" to figure out the multiple levels of meaning in a film that could be just about revenge if you looked no further. This brilliant adaptation by Pulitzer-winner and minimalist Harold Pinter contains his usual spare dialogue and non sequitur logic to provoke wonderment and amusement in a discerning audience that knows there's more than meets the eye and ear.

Wealthy novelist Andrew Wyke (Michael Caine) is visited in his impressive estate by his wife's lover, Milo Tindle (Jude Law). From the first interchange about the superiority of Wyke's car, which is placed nose to nose with Tindle's in an obviously figurative bird's-eye shot, the debate takes on a tennis metaphor, where each combatant takes a set and the resolution becomes a tangled endgame.

While it is easy to guess Shaffer has planned the author initially to be the manipulative superior as he guides his guest through one of the year's best set designs with its modern sharp edges and dazzling electronics, the play/film evolves with each character (this is a two hander where not even the tennis-ball wife physically intrudes) gets a chance to prove his worth for the absent but always present wife. Director Kenneth Branagh's close-ups are merciless upon Caine's age lines emphasizing his wisdom and Law's beauty featuring his youthful volatility and vulnerability. But the prevalent high angle motif puts all the mayhem in perspective: The cuckold will not be denied, no matter how daring, resourceful, and remorseless the intruder is; the men's sexuality will be challenged no matter how masculine the actors are. Ambiguity rules as it should in all effective literature and in life itself.

While the screenplay is literate beyond anything out there all year, the film belongs to the actors, Law soaring beyond his Ripley charm and Caine even better than when he played Law's Tindle in a previous screen version 35 years ago. The story about infidelity is universally appealing, as if it had never been told before and justice had never been rendered so well. Evren Buyruk from Crestline California

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A Delightful Suspense Comedy

Author: Eumenides_0 from Portugal
19 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sleuth may not be the best movie I've seen in a while, but it has to be the funniest. I had my doubts about this movie: I knew it was the remake of a popular movie which I had never seen; having a natural bias against remakes, it was with frustration that I allowed a friend to drag me into this.

Well, my defenses all crumbled as soon as Jude Law's character, the actor Milo Tindle, opened his mouth and initiated the first of a series of brilliant dialogues with Andrew Wyke (beautifully played by Michael Caine), rich detective fiction writer and husband of the woman Tindle is having an open affair with. And with this simple premise begins a delightful and witty suspense comedy filled with some of the best dialogues I've seen in a long time. Credit must to go to Harold Pinter for the adaptation.

The movie is short (not even 90 minutes long) but it seems to have more action than many longer movies. This is no doubt because the action is concentrated on the rapid, back-and-forth conversations between Tindle and Wyke, allowing Law and Caine to stage one of the best actor duels in recent memory. The screen comes to life just from the sheer strength of their performances, all along locked together in one of the quirkiest sets I've seen. Wyke's mansion is, as my friend commented, uninhabitable; although each part is beautiful in itself, the whole creates a claustrophobic, threatening place to live in, which heightens the tension of the action. I must commend the people from the props department: everything in that house is just weird to look at and bathed in garish color lights that constantly change.

Branagh's directing is also quite interesting: I love how he used the mansion's security screen monitors to show some of the action, adding to the cat-and-mouse atmosphere of the movie. Also fascinating is his use of camera angles in one of the critical parts of the movie in order to protect one of the movie's twists. Finally, I must commend Patrick Doyle, Branagh's composer in most of his movies, for the delightful music. Even my friend, who tends to despise film music, felt compelled to recognise how good it was.

All in all, I'm glad I did see this movie on the big screen.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Law excels at his seemingly unique talent

Author: jess-154 from england
12 February 2008

Two men; one old but rich, the other young but poor. Both in love with the same woman. Trapped in the millionaire novelist's house, the two play out the ultimate crime-writers' fantasy; an (almost) real-life murder mystery, in a bid to each prove themselves worthy of the woman.

The entire film revolves exclusively around two characters, Andrew Wyke (Michael Caine) and Milo Tindle (Jude Law), and within one location; an old country mansion. In fact, the lighting and cinematography manipulate the dramatically modernised interior in such a way that the house is brought to life, almost feeling like a third character. I applaud the camera and lighting crew, whose work perfectly complements the actors and gives the film its emotional intensity.

Law excels at his seemingly unique talent to be at once unbearable yet utterly compelling. As the duo continuously switch the rules and try to out-bluff each other, Law moves seamlessly from victim to maniac to adoring lover, fuelling Wyke's fantasy just enough to gain his trust, only to exploit and humiliate him later.

Caine starred as Milo Tindel in the original release of this film in 1972, opposite the late Laurence Olivier. I haven't seen the original so can not compare Caine's performance; however I felt that he portrayed the role of the jealous, conniving and manipulative husband superbly. I watched the majority of the film holding my breath.

Although the film draws to a satisfying conclusion, it's left up the audience to decide who has the final laugh. As reality is mushed up and trust boundaries pushed to their limits to attain the ultimate revenge, you'll undoubtedly leave the cinema unsure of what is real and who you can believe.

The Fan Carpet -

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Something you don't see every day.

Author: TOMASBBloodhound from Omaha, NE USA
4 December 2008

Normally I am as critical as anyone when it comes to remakes. Not only do most of them suck, but the films that get remade were fine the way they were. New versions or meditations of old films are seldom necessary for any reason. Except of course that the studios think they will make money on them. But this recent version of Sleuth is something different. Not only is it a pleasure to watch, but I actually liked it a little more than the original. I watched both films this week for the first time ever, so it was easy to compare and contrast.

The basic plot has stayed the same. A wealthy author (Caine in this version) invites his wife's young lover (Law) over to his sprawling estate. It is here where the details of the affair are spread out on the table. The author acts as though he wants to be rid of his wife. But he notes that the younger man has not the financial means to keep the woman happy for long. The author proposes that the young man steal some expensive jewels in the house and fence them for enough money to stay away with the woman. After some prodding, the suspicious young man decides to go through with it. But it is quickly clear that the young man has fallen into a trap laced with danger and humiliation. The remainder of the movie deals with the younger man's attempt at revenge on the rich old schemer.

Nothing is really as it seems in this thriller. From the moment we believe the young man was shot dead at the end of the first act, the film becomes a test to see if one man can outwit the other. Thankfully this newer version is much, much shorter. Not so much time is wasted on needless exposition and moving the dialog from one cluttered room to the next. Sure it was great to watch Caine match acting skills with Olivier, but the movie just dragged on too long. Here it is down to a taut 90 minutes or so, and when the conclusion finally comes, it just feels right this time. Caine is a wonderful actor, and it makes me feel older just seeing how much he has aged. Still his performance is excellent. He plays the part of the old man somewhat more reserved and fragile than Olivier did. Olivier was more menacing and perhaps a bit sharper with the dialog, but Caine's more subdued version of the character worked fine here. I am perhaps one of half a dozen straight American men who likes Jude Law. He's plucky, edgy, and comes off more dangerous than Caine did in the original. Law matches Caine in the acting department scene to scene. The film's third act is completely different this time around, and somehow it works. Caine makes the mistake here and there of letting his guard down about a certain personal aspect, and Law pounces on it. The fun and games were definitely over by the film's final frame, its safe to say.

Kenneth Brahagh's direction doesn't seem to miss a beat, and the minimalist art decoration was a nice contrast from the cluttered and clumsy setup at the mansion in the original version. Olivier may have lived in such a setting to mask his loneliness and the malaise of advancing age. Caine seems to wallow in it here as nothing but post-modern art and blue neon lights drench the interiors of the stately old country home.

By all means see both versions. Both are somewhat enjoyable, and very well-acted. I'd give 7 stars to the original and 8 to this fine remake.

The Hound.

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7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Law make Caine his b*tch

Author: jaibo from England
24 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's hard to imagine what anyone to whom the original Sleuth or the name Harold Pinter meant nothing would make of this peculiar little item. Pinter turns Shaffer's fun but dated stage thriller into a psychological nightmare, in which two closet case borderline psychotics f**k each others' minds in lieu of each other's bodies whilst watched by high tech surveillance equipment. Pinter's script comes across as a hack job during which the hack became possessed by his own specific interests and decided to turn the games between the characters into a weird game of his own.

Branagh's direction is surprisingly intriguing, the mis-en-scene a technophobes' bad dream as designed by a conglomeration of NBAs; the framing a constant play on the idea of NOT GETTING THE FULL PICTURE. He also manages to get some of the best work of their careers out of Caine and, especially, Law.

It could drive someone with little patience all the way up the wall, but it's hard to really hate a mainstream film in which Caine is dressed in a woman's jewellery and treated like a bitch by a very lithe-looking Law.

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14 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Final Third spoils things, but performances make this worth watching

Author: Simon Parker from United Kingdom
23 November 2007

Sleuth was a movie I didn't know much about, in actual fact its one of the very rare movies where I went into the cinema knowing absolutely nothing about the plot and only that it was a remake and Michael Caine and Jude Law starred in it. That was all I knew, so I sat down in my cinema seat, the first movie I ever saw on my own I hasten to add, and was wondering what I was letting myself in for. Well I'll be honest and say Sleuth is certainly original, well apart from the fact its a remake. Its a movie with only two actors in it, both of which are on extremely top form in this movie, and essentially its a movie purely containing dialogue. If I had known this before I saw the movie I probably might have questioned going to see it, it doesn't sound the most interesting of plots or films ever made. However the storyline is surprisingly compelling, well up to a point, and the direction so original that Kenneth Branagh definitely deserves a lot of praise. Alas, while the script is highly witty and the storyline initially pitch perfect, the third act just is trying to be way too smart. I spent the last twenty five minutes wondering what the hell was going on, who was good and who was bad. The storyline just turns into a bizarre mish mash with only the actors holding it together. Its this bizarre finale that makes the movie have a much lower rating and get quite tiresome by the credits. Still Sleuth is certainly a movie worth watching, and I suppose if you actually fully understand what is happening towards the end then you might adore the movie, unfortunately for me it remains a brilliant movie with a lame third act.

As I have previously said the movie has only two actors throughout the entire film. This time replacing Laurence Olivier is Michael Caine, and replacing Michael Caine is Jude Law. The casting of Michael Caine was obviously just designed to be a quirky piece of casting, but thankfully it pulls off. Caine is on top form and delivers one of his best performances in recent years. He delivers lines with an injection of venom and he delivers the funnier lines to perfection. Caine here actually does seem to be having a blast. His character is definitely at his best in the first third of the movie, and the scenes where he first meets Jude Law is perfect. Jude Law himself is surprisingly decent, not perfect, but for the majority of the time he more than holds his own against Caine. The earlier scenes, and superb middle section shows Law's talent. While Caine's character is deliciously nasty, Law's character just seems a bit of an idiot at times. Still he does very well considering the actor he acting opposite. A shame then that its Law's character that sort of spoils the last third. In fact his character just seems plain insane in the last third, in fact judging by his performance there he'd have made a Joker in the upcoming Batman movie. A shame his performance seems to stumble so much as Caine still delivers the goods. Admiteddly its the script that makes the final third just not work, but Law doesn't help matters.

As I've said before this is still a very good movie up until the end. The movie is a short, sharp punch of a movie, that while short in length remains memorable because of its impact. The storyline here at first is clever and original, a tale essentially of two egos and that's it. This movie was originally a play and I suppose this would work better on a stage rather than on a screen. The script is generally impressive, Caine gets some really great one liners and gets a great amount of swearing to do, Law gets some better lines later on but definitely plays second fiddle to Caine. The actual direction is definitely unique. Branagh placing the camera in strange places and playing heavily on the security camera. It looks strange at first but it does work surprisingly and makes good usage of the set. The actual set itself is great to look at and once again makes the movie feel more unique.

Overall Sleuth is a decent and memorable movie, in fact I wish so much the ending had been better as then I'd have given this an extremely high rating. The performances are first class for the majority and the movie itself well made. Worth checking out, but prepare yourself for a bizarre and flat final third.

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