Not so the remake.
Kenneth Brannagh, the director and Harold Pinter, the writer, have obviously reacted against that by taking an entirely different approach which can only be described as minimalist. The setting, the musical score (which consists of the same short piece of music being played over and over) and the dialogue are sparse. This appears to make it more difficult for the actors to play off each other and it shows.
Of course there is always a great difficulty in translating a stage play to cinema, and Sleuth has the added disadvantage of being a two-hander. The 1972 version frankly admitted its origins and went with it, while this recent remake looks and feels more like a made-for-TV film than anything cinematic.
The wandering camera tries to compensate for this lack of interest with all sorts of gimmicky angles. This is initially interesting but soon palls. Michael Caine, while putting in his usual solid performance, falls short of his commanding role in the first film, while Jude Law is a little lightweight at least when he plays himself. He is actually more convincing in make-up and I found this part, the second third of the film, by far the most interesting in the film. However the manner in which this is directed, with Law's back to the camera most of the time and obscure camera angles, actually gives the game away much more than the straight-forward approach in the 1972 film.
Pinter's script is written in his characteristic style: short sentences, pointless questions being answered with other questions and the occasional gratuitous obscenity to spice things up. This has excited a whole generation of theatre-goers, to my bafflement since he is such a one-trick pony. Part of this strange hero-worship of him is that he appears in the film on the TV delivering the same line as in the film. I guess this shows how self-referential theatre folks are.
By and large Pinter's script follows the plot of the original Sleuth. When he deviates from it, it is always to the detriment of the latter film. The worst example of this is the insipid rewriting of the ending. The original finale, with Olivier frantically looking for the objects that Caine has hidden, is gone completely. This provided an exciting conclusion. Instead we have a lacklustre and bizarre homosexuality idea that is not just poor in itself but it actually undermines the marital infidelity premise for the first two thirds. Again I think this curiosity is a theatrical mindset which believes any two men in close proximity must be homo-erotic.
Not particularly worth watching except for fans of the original who wish to see how the same play has been re-worked. For everyone else, watch the 1972 version.
Actually its worse than that: Anyone who innocently watches this travesty BEFORE the 1972 version, will have the experience of that ruined forever.