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Sleuth According to Harold Pinter
M. J Arocena17 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of those cases in which it is impossible to talk about the film in question without making references to the original. The original was a pleasant enough and entertaining enough recreation of the Anthony Shaffer Broadway success. Then, Joseph L Manckiewicz, with the able complicity of Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, went for the gadgetry and deception that made the play a world wide success without adding or detracting much from the original. Now, Jude Law, producer as well as star, approached Nobel laureate Harold Pinter to reinvent the whole thing and reinvented he did. Michael Caine takes now the Laurence Olivier part and Jude Law falls into the Michael Caine part, perfectly. The elements are now cruder: the language, the set, the wardrobe. Thankfully, it's also shorter, much, much shorter. What's missing is the innocence. This time things are taken a bit too seriously. The homosexual element is a novelty but, I must say, not a surprise. Jude Law exudes sex. It's impossible to put him in a confined environment with just one other person and not be sensitive to the sexual possibilities. He provokes without half trying. He plants sexual ideas in your mind and you feel compelled to break rules and go for it. His Lord Alfred Douglas was a triumph because of that. You understood Oscar Wilde's journey of self destruction just because Jude Law was his navigator. Kenneth Brannagh's theatrical touch works beautifully here and the two actors are worth the price of admission and more. So, at the bottom of all this chatter there is a recommendation. If it had been up to me however I wouldn't have gone to Harold Pinter for the revamping of this minor classic but to Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bennett or even Tom Stoppard, but that's just me.
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The Darker Side Of A Darkish Comedy
primodanielelori18 November 2007
Just under 90 minutes that's all it takes to retell this Anthony Shaffer comedy of deception and disguise. The characters are not quite the same, this ones allow the darker side of their nature take the upper-hand. The new house is a cold technological monstrosity instead of the country manor of Laurence Olivier. In Harold Pinter's hand and brain everything is colder, darker and Shaffer's original comedy risks to become Ira Levin's "Deathtrap" at times. Michael Caine and Jude Law are inches away from a kiss here and that's a bizarre turn of events. True, Jude Law has a sexual presence that he carries as if he didn't know was there. Everything he says has a sexual connotation whether consciously or unconsciously. His Milo Tindle looks decidedly post coital. A bit undone, unwashed. Kenneth Brannagh conducts his duet with gusto but limited not just by the natural setting of the play but by the memory of the Manckiewicz original. Caine and Law make a fun, dirty pair and it's the power of their performances that makes this very short version appear even shorter. I could have stay a few more minutes with this two. That, I suppose, it's a form of giving it a thumbs up.
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A Nasty Remake
alainbenoix22 November 2007
None of the innocence of the original survive this dark and nasty remake. Harold Pinter's world overtakes Anthony Shaffer's and destroys it. The result is an entertaining, short, showcase for two actors from different generations. Michael Caine who's old enough to have been in the original and Jude Law who's young enough not to have seen it. But, he's clearly seen it and saw it as a major showcase for himself. He was right. The two actors go for it. They fight, they insult and humiliate each other as well as forgive, promise, lie and almost become lovers. Pinter is not a laugh a minute guy, he never was and the odds are he'll never be. But the strange combination of Caine, Law, Pinter and Branagh provide a brief, divertimento, concocted originally and with enormous success by a light weight thriller writer, turned upside down not nearly as successfully, by a heavy weight intellectual. An oddity worth part of your afternoon.
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A remake without a soul
Harry T. Yung11 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Watched at the Toronto International Film Festival

I must declare my bias at the very outset, as one who has seen the indelible 1972 original 3 times and consider it nothing short of absolutely brilliant. This remake, in my bias view, Harold Pinter script notwithstanding, is a disappointment. In some cases, trimming the original to a leaner and tightly packed version works. For Sleuth, however, trimming it from 138 minutes to 86 minutes is tantamount to cutting out the very essence that makes the movie click. I'll come back to this.

If you have not seen the original, you probably should not read on. In the first place, there are SPOILERS aplenty. But even if you've seen the remake, there is probably not much point because this is exclusively a comparison with the original and assumes that you've seen it.

One look from the start and you know that people are trying to "update" this all-time classic. The electronic gadgets and ultra-modern set design would almost make you believe that you are watching a Sci-fi. I don't find it objectionable. After all, it's just style. The substances seems to be there, at least initially, as we see Act 1 unfold, lean and compact, with Caine now playing Olivier's role of super-rich mystery writer Andrew Wyke. The character is somewhat updated also, as Caine skillfully plays out the explosive emotion of a cuckolded husband. Explosive emotion however does not always equate with fine drama. Personally, I would prefer Olivier's stiff-upper-lip portrayal, where a sarcastic, icy sneer digs deeper, into another level of his detestation.

Jude Law is a bit of a pleasant surprise in Act 2, in his performance as Scotland Yard Inspector Doppler. Playing Caine's original role of wife-stealer Milo Tindle, he is adequate. (This is in fact the second time he play's Caine's role in a remake, the first being "Alfie"). But as Tindle's alter ego coming for revenge, he shines. Physically, he is in fact a little more recognizable than Caine, but his superb acting does the trick.

But things start to fall apart after he has revealed his identity. What has been missing becomes more and more noticeable, eventually becoming a gaping hole – the remake lacks a soul. The essence of the movie is in the two people playing games. The original takes the time and details necessary to develop this key element right from the beginning, when Wake calls to Tindle who nonchalantly handles a game piece on his complicated board game, "Put it back, it has taken me very a long time to get it to where it is" (something like that). Every detail points to Wake's seriousness about playing this game – from the hideous laughing of the mechanical figure of a sailor to dressing Tindle up as a clown. In the remake, we hear Wyke TALKING a lot about his passion for playing games, but it is far from being convincing.

The worst is yet to come. The best part of the movie in the original is discarded completely. In the original, after Tindle reveals his identity and claims that he has only scored three-love after Wake's six-love first set, the beauty is in how he evens the score. In the original, he accomplishes this by a convoluted plot culminating in making Wyke run around his own house madly to solve three riddles that will allow him to remove incriminating evidence before the police arrive. This is game-playing at the very best. In the remake, there is – NOTHING. In its place is a totally contrived sequence suggesting homosexual possibilities which is neither clever nor amusing. Homosexuality is a good subject matter for a lot of movies (see my comments on "Brokeback mountain":, but to tag it on here to replace a brilliant ending amputated from the original is sheer incompetence.

Granting a few exceptions, remakes usually don't measure up to the original. "Sleuth", unfortunately, is not one of the exceptions. Before you know, it's point, game, set, and match.
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Minimalist and mediocre remake
Cheese Hoven22 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The original Sleuth from the 70s was very ornate in its approach, perhaps to compensate for its limited cast and single location. Thus the language was almost baroque and eye-catching gadgets, mainly toys, were everywhere to be seen. This approach drew bravura performances from both Michael Caine and Lawrence Olivier and the original Sleuth remains a masterclass in acting and how the audience can be engrossed by what is a filmed stage play.

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.
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A weakly plotted script undercuts great performances and sharp dialog
dbborroughs26 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Harold Pinter rewrites Anthony Schaeffer's classic play about a man going to visit the husband of his lover and having it all go sideways. The original film starred Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Caine has the Olivier role in this version and he's paired with Jude Law. Here the film is directed by Kenneth Branaugh.

The acting is spectacular. Both Caine and Law are gangbusters in their respective roles. I really like the chemistry and the clashing of personalities. It's wonderful and enough of a reason to watch when the script's direction goes haywire.

Harold Pinter's dialog is crisp and sharp and often very witty and I understand why he was chosen to rewrite the play (which is updated to make use of surveillance cameras and the like).The problem is that how the script moves the characters around is awful. Michale Caine walks Law through his odd modern house with sliding doors and panels for no really good reason. Conversations happen repeatedly in different locations. I know Pinter has done that in his plays, but in this case it becomes tedious. Why do we need to have the pair go over and over and over the fact that Law is sleeping with Caine's wife? It would be okay if at some point Law said enough we've done this, but he doesn't he acts as if each time is the first time. The script also doesn't move Caine through his manipulation of Law all that well. To begin with he's blindly angry to start so he has no chance to turn around and scare us.(Never mind a late in the game revelation that makes you wonder why he bothered) In the original we never suspected what was up. here we do and while it gives an edge it also somehow feels false since its so clear we are forced to wonder why Law's Milo doesn't see he's being set up. There are a few other instances but to say more would give away too much.

Thinking about the film in retrospect I think its a film of missed opportunities and missteps. The opportunities squandered are the chance to have better fireworks between Caine and Law. Missteps in that the choice of a garish setting and odd shifts in plot take away from the creation of a tension and a believable thriller. Instead we get some smart dialog and great performances in a film that doesn't let them be real.

despite some great performances and witty dialog this is only a 4 out of 10 because the rest of the script just doesn't work
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Worth taking a look at, if not for the plot, then for the powerful performances by Law and Caine and unique (if flawed) direction by Branagh
Sa'ar Vardi1 October 2007
Luckily for me, I didn't watch the original 1972 version of Sleuth, so I didn't know what to expect upon entering the theater, nor did I have any previous basis of comparison. That's a good thing, you see, as this slick and stylish one-on-one thriller kept me and my friend on the edge of our seats throughout its whole 86 minutes running time. Now, this may seem short for a film like this, but trust me - it's a satisfying feature, that'll leave you highly entertained once the credits start to roll.

Based on a play, Sleuth confronts two extremely clever British men in a game of trickery and deceit. Our characters are Andrew Wyke (the one and only Michael Cain), an aging famous author who lives alone in a high-tech mansion after his wife Maggie has left him for a younger man; and Milo Tindle, the younger man, an aspiring actor, equipped with charm and wit(portrayed by the always charmantic Jude Law, who demonstrates both qualities once again). When Wyke invite Tindle to his mansion, Tindle seeks to convince the former into letting his wife go by signing the divorce paper. However, Wyke seems far more interested in playing mind games with his wife's new lover, and lures him into a series of actions he thoroughly planned in seeking revenge on his unfaithful spouse.

Much can't be said about what happens from here on out without spoiling the movie, but I'll try the best to bring the jest of what I felt towards the end result whilst speaking in general terms.

As a play would unfold, Sleuth is built of three prominent acts, each raising the stakes our protagonists are willing to take as part of this one-on-one confrontation. However, while I found the first two extremely sarcastic, intriguing and dare I say mean (but not in a cruel manner); the final act was a bit of a let down, one that didn't live up to the lofty anticipation the first two led me into building.

Alas, these reservations of mine are what kept this film from becoming a real treat in my book, and left it more in the realms of an entertaining ride of a lesser value (for me). Still, I don't regret I checked this one out for one second. Law and Caine both hand out terrific performances, with Law outdoing even himself this time. This superb actor demonstrates a wide range of emotions on screen, and tricking even good old cynic me in the second act at that. I really wish he'd gain more recognition for his ongoing work, and the year end awards which are rapidly approaching are a good place to start. If the Academy will dismiss\ignore his work here, I'll be really disappointed this time around.

Another good thing to keep your eye out for while checking this one out is the wonderful camera work and musical theme that haunt you throughout the feature. Special kudos goes to director Kenneth Branagh, who shows us how a talky script could easy become a sufficient thriller by knowing when and where to place the camera, and how to place the proper lighting and music in a given scene. It's this experience and technique that help turn 2007's Sleuth into an effective piece of work; one that's worth taking a look at, if not for the plot, then (to the very least) for the powerful performances by Jude Law and Michael Caine and unique direction by Branagh.

Watched at the International Haifa Film Festival, Israel, October 2007.
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Don't Expect Too Much
cmccarthy-131 December 2007
The most important thing when you watch this film is to avoid any comparison with the 1972 classic. Not easy I grant you but essential if you want to enjoy this film on any level. Any comparison will not be favourable to this version.

There is an obvious attempt to give this film an ultra modern feel by employing huge amounts of high-tech gadgets and having sleek metal and chrome surfaces on display throughout the house. Kenneth Branagh has made use of various techniques such as showing the action through security cameras and filming from different angles to give this film a unique look. However, none of these things are a problem. There is a slightly excessive use of swear words which does give the impression that the writer was trying desperately to engage a younger audience through any means necessary.

The first half of this film is engaging enough and follows the plot of the original pretty closely. However, the second half is a bit of a mess. Jude Law's performance is laughable and there is a homosexual undercurrent that has no place in the plot and is in fact very damaging to the credibility of the film. The ending is abrupt and totally devoid of tension.

This film is worth a look but don't expect too much. Michael Caine takes on the role of the rich and bitter Andrew Wyke and plays it very well with no attempt to copy Olivier in any way. Jude Law is adequate but not outstanding. This film might be better suited to people who have not seen the original but in its own right this film is still not a classic of our time.
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Agreeable mystery based on successful play about a cat and mouse game
ma-cortes11 December 2009
Andrew Wyke (Michael Caine) is a famous writer who lives in a monitored with high tech and stark house . He is a successful novelist , a master of menace , the number one bestseller author from Baron Books . The luxurious but cold British mansion is full of modern furniture, cameras and surveillance activated. There arrives Milo (Jude Law, also producer), a hairdresser and aspiring actor who seeks to convince the former for signing the divorce papers and Andrew in seeking avenge on his detested and unfaithful wife. Then happens a cat and mouse thriller and both are the peak of their game in this dazzling film. An ultimate game is being played on its audience.

This lighthearted suspense/mystery is well adapted by Harold Pinter from Anthony Shaffer's hit play about games-playing mystery novelist played by Caine leading his spouse's lover performed by Law into diabolical trap. This interesting movie is plenty of twists and turns and stunning surprises. Splendid and fascinating performances , a real Tour De force for two stars. Cameo by the screenwriter Harold Pinter and director Kenneth Branagh as men on TV. Packs a minimalist soundtrack , including a haunting, remarkable musical leitmotif by Patrick Doyle. Colorful cinematography by Haris Zambarloukis and modern production design. This deliciously sardonic and witty movie is professionally directed by Kenneth Branagh . However, it is inferior the first version that was a flawlessly acted masterpiece directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz, in his last film, with Laurence Olivier and again Michael Caine. In the similar style was subsequently filmed 'Deathtrap' by Sidney Lumet with Christopher Reeve, Dyan Cannon and also Michael Caine. Rating : Good, delicious from start to finish. It's a great and enjoyable fun.
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A vulgar knockoff
eye9510 March 2009
While the original titillates the intellect, this cheap remake is designed purely to shock the sensibilities. Instead of intricate plot-twists, this so-called thriller just features sudden and seemingly random story changes that serve only to debase it further with each bizarre development. Worst of all, replacing the original spicy dialog is an overturned saltshaker full of unnecessary four-letter words, leaving behind a stark, but uninteresting taste.

There was promise--unfulfilled promise. The prospect of Michael Caine pulling off a Patty Duke-like Keller-to-Sullivan graduation is admittedly intriguing. Unfortunately, this brilliant and respected actor only tarnished his reputation, first by accepting the role in this horribly re-scripted nonsense and then by turning in a performance that only looks competent when compared to Jude Law's amateurish overacting.

If you haven't seen the classic original, overlook its dated visuals and gimmicks. Hunt it down, watch it, and just enjoy a story-and-a-half. As for the remake, pass on this insult to the original.
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A remake that adds, not subtracts, from the remarkable experience of the original drama or first motion picture production.
RodneyRecor13 October 2007
Luckily for me, I saw the original 1972 version of Sleuth. That production has remained among my all-time favorite pictures, and when I am called upon to list my personal top-ten, Sleuth 1972 is on it.

Branaugh's new take on this exciting, captivating story is a thrilling, intellectually engaging motion picture. Michael Caine's return to the project in the role of his 1972 opposite gives the picture a haunting quality that I found mesmerizing. I couldn't take my eyes and ears away from the screen, because I didn't want to miss a frame or a sound. I was delighted at seeing a remake (as a film historian, archivist, and movie fanatic, I HATE remakes!) that was just as glorious for me as the original.

I now consider the 1972 version and this re-interpretation to work together as a single remarkable cinematic experience. I was fascinated by the different designs, time-periods, and techniques juxtaposed by the two films working side-by-side. If you appreciate great cinema, and have a hunger to devour only he best movies, I recommend that you see this picture, and run right out to the video store to get the earlier version, too. Don't compare and contrast the two movies, Just sit back, surrender, and be carried away by great dialog, images, sounds, and all of the other things about movies that both of these pictures present and that makes you love them.
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Put it back on the walk away!
bobm550811 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The main reason for writing this review is I found this "revisioning" of a great play and worthy 1972 film, a horrible movie experience. If I can save someone from watching it, I will have done a good thing.

This "new" version is loaded with talent, and it all goes wrong. Kenneth Branagh OKs an ugly, sterile, one note set. He proceeds to film the movie from every arty, distracting, self-centered angle possible. We see reflections of the actors in stainless steel, on security monitors, shots of their heads from 200 ft above, close ups of eyes, chins, and on and on. The screenplay, by a Nobel Laureate, introduces long stretchs of unpleasant homosexual banter, that is being faked by both parties,.... I think?? Given the character "twists" how would I know? The characters themselves,so richly drawn in the original, are crass and unsympathetic. The running time has been cut by an hour, which is either the real problem or the kindest thing the Director did for us. The actors perform their lines effectively, but nothing they say or do is remotely believable. Jude Law is over the top more than Caine, but as the credited Producer, must have had Branagh's blessing.

All in all I found this to be an ugly to look at, unconvincing shell of a former classic. Why was it even made??? The paying public spent less that $4M worldwide to see it! A vanity piece of work that fails at every turn.
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Sad to see Law and Caine in this travesty
Eternalkid21 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
86 wasted minutes of my life. I fell asleep the first time I attempted watching it, and I must say I'm not one to ever fall asleep in the cinema.

I have never seen such a pointless plot acted in such a stilted and forced manner, and can only surmise that the actors were as hard-up as the protagonist writer allegedly was in the film itself.

Everything in this dire adaptation is overacted. And if it isn't the wooden acting, almost as though you can see the teleprompter, then the set itself, which is overlit and interfering in utterly unnecessary ways, and overdressed to an unimaginable extent, is enough to put you off the entire farce.

As to the supposed shock of a detective under disguise, any person who does not see that - as well as the entire rest of this ludicrous plot - telegraphed light years in advance, should check their eyesight immediately.

Bad acting, and from two very decent actors, coupled with the hyper-coddled Branagh trademark overdirection, is enough to make you want to use real bullets rather than blanks yourself.

On top of it all, there is a completely risible undertone of homoerotica in this, heightened towards the end of it. All I can hope for is that this was such a flop that people shan't try to emulate this level of cinema ever again.
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Jackson Booth-Millard31 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I saw maybe a clip or two on TV of this, it was only later I realised that this was a remake, with one of the stars of the 1972 original, I was also intrigued that both actors had played Alfie. I loved the original version, and I had to see why the critics didn't like this rekindling, from director Kenneth Branagh (Henry V, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein). It is pretty much the same format as the original, struggling actor Milo Tindle (Jude Law) is going to see famous author of crime novels Andrew Wyke (Sir Michael Caine) at his high-tech designer mansion to get permission to marry the wife who left him. Andrew agrees to go ahead with the divorce if Milo does something for him, he wants him to create a realistic looking crime scene in his mansion, i.e. play thief and steal an expensive piece of jewellery for their high value, which he can use for him and Maggie. By the end of this realistic looking fake burglary however, Andrew reveals it was all a mind game, and with a gun pointed at him Milo begs him not to shoot, but he does. A little later, there is a knock at the door from a Detective who is investigating the disappearance of Milo, and Andrew starts by lying about knowing him, but eventually he tries to convince him that shots heard were part of a game. The detective dubs him as a murderer with evidence linking, but of course he removes his glasses and moustache to reveal that it is actually Milo himself, he has played a cleverly laid out mind game on Andrew, just like he did to him, almost like firing the blank bullet. This is where the film changes however, the rest is brand new material, Milo does not claim that he has murdered the woman he wants to marry, he instead performs another fake murder to scare Andrew, then Andrew tries a homo-erotic seduction technique to get him on side, and finally Milo gets shot for real and falls to his death, with Maggie driving in outside. Also starring Harold Pinter as Man on T.V., Carmel O'Sullivan as Maggie (apparently) and Branagh as Other Man on T.V. Caine is reasonable taking over the role of his original co-star Lord Sir Laurence Olivier, and Law is okay in parts, mostly in the disguise scene of course, both would have been great if the film was better prepared. The scripting is pretty terrible, especially the edition of unnecessary bad language, the story doesn't have the fun nature like the original, the unwinding of the games is silly, and I completely agree that director Branagh doesn't know what direction the characters should go, a rubbish remake mystery. Poor!
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More than meets the eye.
jdesando27 November 2007
"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.
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Very boring with predictable plot
compmend22 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie not knowing anything about it before hand. The plot was terrible with large gaps of information missing. The movie didn't have the "battle of wits" feel to me. The actors just spewed out mouthful's of nonsense, at times causing me to gnash my teeth in agony as they droned on and on. The plot was predictable except for the stomach sickening homo erotic scene at the end (I'm not homophobic but made me physically sick to my stomach), even the ending was predictable. And you could tell the detective was Jude Law in a costume, everything from the fake accent, terrible dental work, costume shop facial hair, everything pointed to it being a disguise. The whole movie just felt like wasted time out of my life. This movie had the feel of a puppet show with Jude Law and Michael Caine as puppets and the house as the window to view the show, really boooring in my opinion.
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A pretty interesting remake
Argemaluco11 January 2008
I saw Sleuth(1972) a lot years ago.I remember I liked it but I did not think it was a great movie.Now,the remake of that film,is a pretty interesting remake and I have to say I liked it more than the original film.I will not make comparisons between the two movies.I will only talk about Sleuth(2007).The best element from this movie are the performances.Michael Caine and Jude Law bring extraordinary performances,full of details.This film is not boring and it kept me very entertained and interested.The only fail about this movie is that the third act is not as good as the first two acts.I mean,it's not bad but it's not at the same level of the rest of the movie.But,still with that,Sleuth is a pretty fine and interesting remake with two excellent performances.I can totally recommend it.
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A Nutshell Review: Sleuth
DICK STEEL20 April 2008
Today marks the Remakes day, where I take a look at two movies which are given an up-to- date treatment, and not unlike the general others, these have the creative forces back to lend certain credibility that it's not run of the mill product.

First up is Sleuth, where Michael Caine returns as one of the two roles, but this time, playing the other character opposite the one he was casted in the original, making way to protégé of sorts, Jude Law, to take over. It's quite interesting that this marks the second time that Law is playing a Caine character in a remake, the first being the titular role in the movie Alfie. If this keeps up, I guess by the time he rolls around his senior citizen age, he might as well gun for the role of Alfred Pennyworth in a Batman movie.

I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive when I learnt of the running time of this remake, that it's almost half of what the original was. I wondered which aspects of the original story would be summarized or worse, compromised, and in the worst case, presented only one half of the story. And I was pleasantly surprised that this is not a blind shot for shot remake, but one which retained the core essence while providing a very shiny, glossy veneer to spice up the visuals. The original had looked too much of a stage play with quite gaudy sets, but in Kenneth Branagh's update coupled with Harold Pinter working on the screenplay, it became more posh and classy. And gone too is the creepily irritating clown.

As stated earlier, Michael Caine now plays Andrew Wyke, a renowned novelist whose wife is having an affair with Jude Law's Milo Tindle, a hairdresser. Wyke sets up a meeting with Tindle and the two begin to play a cat and mouse mind game, relying on wit and trading gentlemanly insults laced with puns in a one upmanship fashion, both out trying to prove their worth to each other, and of course to stroke their own egos in the process. To tell you more will be to spoil the fun, but suffice to say that things do get a little interesting and extreme as the story goes along, at no time being boring,

Even though this is a remake, it will not bore those who have watched the original, as there's a little bit more explored and offered toward the end, which will certainly raise some eyebrows, and take you by surprise. Of course the tightening of the story helped, and doesn't indulge too much on necessities that dragged the original. Chemistry between Caine and Law is excellent as they feed off each other's energies in fleshing their roles, and Caine was actually more menacing than Laurence Olivier in the original as Andrew Wyke. Law on the other hand brings the usual roguish charm to Milo, and in a particular scene, I thought he probably would have been in contention as The Joker, and should Christopher Nolan require someone to step into the late Heath Ledger's shoes, then look no further - in any case Nolan has replaced actors for the same role before, so it shouldn't really come as a surprise if the Joker character survives past The Dark Knight.

Between the original and the remake, I would prefer this version instead, for its relatively more palatable run time, and keeping things moving forward consistently. Being updated for the modern times also helped, so if I were to recommend anyone interesting in watching Sleuth, go for the remake instead. The score for the movie is also mesmerizing too, and earns brownie points.
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How not to do a remake!
Thomas Chacko28 October 2009
This reworking of Anthony Shaffer's classic play did not last long in cinemas. Having recently suffered through it on cable, I still congratulate myself for not wasting money on a ticket. Director Kenneth Branagh, writer Harold Pinter, and star / producer Jude Law deluded themselves that their prestige alone could sustain this travesty through an interminable 93 minutes, without the fun or class of the longer original.

Michael Caine enhanced his reputation playing the second lead in the marvelous 1972 film. He now seems intent on destroying it by attempting the lead, played in that version by Laurence Olivier. (Both were nominated for Best Actor Oscars, but lost to Marlon Brando in THE GODFATHER.) Looking puffy and washed-out, Caine glides through the part with less depth than he displays as Batman's butler. He had already lowered himself to a guest appearance in the atrocious remake of GET CARTER. What's next -- ALFIE II, or SON OF THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING?

But then, no one benefits from this inane adaptation by Pinter, who thinks that frequent cursing and an added sexual angle can compensate for the absence of Shaffer's witty character interplay. Branagh's direction relies on bluish lighting and a soulless set design that wouldn't hold up in a second-rate nightclub. Neither the shadows nor the tight, overacted close-ups can help Law overcome his dull screen persona. The result is a failure both as straight drama and as detective thriller, almost making you forget the purpose behind the title.

Fans of the original stage production (with Anthony Quayle and Keith Baxter) and the Olivier / Caine film would do well to regard this enterprise as a bad dream. The late Mr Shaffer, who wrote the 1972 screenplay, as well as Hitchcock's FRENZY and several Agatha Christie adaptations, must be turning in his grave, wishing he could plan a real murder or two!
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The Emperor is starkers - no sleuth required
MSHughes-112 July 2009
At the name of Pinter, every knee shall bow - especially after his Nobel Literature Prize acceptance speech which did little more than regurgitate canned, by-the-numbers, sixth-form anti-Americanism. But this is even worse; not only is it a tour-de-force of talentlessness, a superb example of how to get away with coasting on your decades-old reputation, but it also represents the butchery of a superb piece. The original Sleuth was a masterpiece of its kind. Yes, it was a theatrical confection, and it is easy to see how it's central plot device would work better on the stage than the screen, but it still worked terrifically well. This is a Michael Caine vanity piece, but let's face it, Caine is no Olivier. Not only can he not fill Larry's shoes, he couldn't even fill his bathroom slippers. The appropriately-named Caine is, after all, a distinctly average actor, whose only real recommendation, like so many British actors, is their longevity in the business. He was a good Harry Palmer, excellent in Get Carter, but that's yer lot, mate! Give this a very wide berth and stick to the superb original. This is more of a half-pinter.
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Difficult To Watch
stormlord-226 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I personally found Sluth difficult to watch. And that is strange because it has two very fine actors playing the major rolls, never the less this film left me feeling very hollow once I had finally forced myself to the end. Perhaps it was the environment, I find "modern" house architecture total nonsense so watching an entire film set in this kind of environment very difficult.

Also I have very fond memories of the 1975 version that was set in a castle I believe and had far more atmosphere than this film. The film was also very predictable hardly straying from the original in story so there were no real surprises when it all came down to it. Who ever decided to set this in a modern "artsy" house should be boxed behind the ears, it ruined the entire film.
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Sleuth (2007) not as good as Sleuth (1972)
Chris30 May 2008
It's a while ago, that I have seen Sleuth (1972) with two great actors Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier. Michael Caine is back, but he is now the husband and Jude Law the lover of his wife. The story is still the same and it's a fantastic play.

During the movie I always had the feeling to watch a play. That's one of the reasons I dislike this remake of a classic. When I watch a movie adapted a play I still must feel to see a movie and not just a play. Director Kenneth Brannigan did some marvelous movies in the past, but this time he missed. Another reason was the look of the movie. The design was modern, stylish clean, uncomfortable and cold. I never got the feeling that somebody ever lived in that house. The photography wasn't bad, but the lightening was awful. Sometimes there was blue light, dark, green light, to round it up not friendly for eyes.

The acting was really good. Michael Caine's and Jude Law's perform at their best. I really would like to see these 2 guys playing together on stage. But I have to confess I never was a fan of Jude Law. The weakest part was the mid part. I remember that in the original that this part was still very mysterious and just marvelous directed. I tried to watch it twice and always in the mid part I felt asleep. The end part is better and more interesting. Sleuth (2007) isn't awful, but it seems to be more a movie for critics than for the audience. Sleuth (1972) is still a masterpiece and much more entertaining than Sleuth (2007).
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an interesting thriller
LayerCake17 October 2007
Kenneth Branagh is known for great Laurence Olivier remakes. His last remake was 1991's Hamlet. 16 years later Branagh is adapting one of Olivier's most famous films, Sleuth. He proves with his effective directing and camera techniques that he is still the greatest director for a remake. The film only has two actors, the legendary Michael Caine as he reverses his role this time around. In this film, the supposed Italian actor Milo Tindle is played by Jude Law. The film starts off with the camera cutting through security cameras throughout Wyke's (Caine) countryside estate. When Tindle arrives you find out that he is the lover to Wyke's wife. He simply asks for him to agree to a divorce, but Wyke has much more planned than that. The film then spends the rest of its time playing out elaborate mind games of deceit and trickery that will keep you guessing until the last second.

Usually, I think it'd be hard to watch just two actors for almost 90min. To pull it off, you'd have to have two incredibly strong actors to pull it off, and they got the perfect people for it. Michael Caine brings Olivier's role a fresher sense of darkness and questionable attributes. While Jude Law easily proves that he is one of his generations top actors. For playing Caine's former performance, Law is sufficient enough to keep the film going. During the second act of the film, Law will surprise you with a stunning performance.

Branagh's direction is somewhat courageous. He uses new camera techniques that haven't been seen before. Sleuth in some way is a dream for a cameraman. Branagh pulls off such interesting angles that it gives you different perspectives of what's going on in each scene. Whether your only line of sight is protruding through a set mini-blinds, it almost makes you feel like a peeping tom listening in on the mens conversation.

The script written by Harold Pinter is filled with eloquent dialog that will entrance you. The character's flip flop from good to bad constantly, so the dialog keeps you updated on who is winning the game. It also gives you a sense that there is a third character in the film. The house. It's incredibly high tech and is the reason for the same of the character's choices. Pinter also uses some of the designs in the house to help move the story along.

However though, towards the end of the second act it seems that the two characters start to get too caught up in their own games and the film does get a bit contrived. It lost my interest a little at the end as well. The film ends abruptly but leaves you hanging. After talking about everything, my conclusion is that Sleuth is definitely one of the greatest remakes of all time.

I give it an 8 out of 10
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Criminal intent
Merwyn Grote9 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Kenneth Branagh's SLEUTH does something radical right off the bat. While most remakes of classics -- or supposed classics -- tend to be overstuffed and overlong (as if bigger automatically makes better), Branagh and his screenwriter Harold Pinter have taken a sharp scalpel to Joseph L. Mankiewicz's 1972 version of Anthony Shaffer's stage play and skillfully whittled it down to the bare bones. It is not just that the material has been sliced down from the 138-minute running time of Mankiewicz's version to a relatively sprightly 86 minutes, Pinter has also trimmed away a lot of the cutesy dialogue and clumsy plotting that robbed the previous film of any sense of suspense or element of surprise.

This sparse approach is evident immediately with the set design; gone are the annoying bric-a-brac and childish clutter that made the 1972 version look as though it were taking place in a Victorian era toy shop, all replaced with a stark and creepy mise en scène. The stately exterior of the Wyke mansion now conceals a cross between Gothic and high-tech, an interior that suggests Caligari meets Kubrick, sort of post-modern Addams Family by way of Tim Burton. The country manor quaintness of the traditional murder mystery has been forfeited in favor of the icy blue-grays of a haunted house thriller. The game of cat and mouse that Shaffer originally concocted remains largely the same, but the setting makes it clear that the pretense that it is a gentlemen's game is effectively shattered. Rather than a hokey comedy of con games, this SLEUTH is intent on being a psychological drama of mind games.

The first two-thirds of the film adheres, more or less, to the outline of Shaffer's original tale: mystery novelist Andrew Wyke invites actor Milo Tindle to his country estate with a business proposition. Tindle is the paramour of Wyke's estranged wife and he has come to persuade Wyke to grant her a divorce. Wyke has other, more sinister, matters on his mind. What unfolds at first is a rather simple scheme aimed at faking a robbery and defrauding an insurance company, but this quickly gives way to a battle of wits based on lies and betrayals. Act one, or rather Round 1 goes to Andrew, while Milo comes back with surprising vengeance to take Round 2, with the deciding Round 3 up for grabs. Either wickedly funny or tiresomely contrived, depending on one's respect for the material, the original story relies heavily on the audience's willingness to accept the men as being either brilliant or gullible, depending on which way Shaffer wants to throw it. The newer version doesn't take it for granted that the audience will be easily seduced into accepting that either man would be so blindly fooled by the other's transparent tricks and expects the stars to be credibly convincing and straight-faced serious while telling their respective lies.

The filmmakers' bravest risk however comes in jettisoning the entire third act, leaving behind the labored battle of wits in favor of a more direct emotional and physical confrontation. In a certain way, this SLEUTH is less like its predecessor than it is like its thematic cousin, Sidney Lumet's version of Ira Levin's DEATHTRAP, as a homoerotic subtext has either been uncovered or totally invented. The mental one-upmanship of who will outsmart who evolves into a smart game of who will out who, all played with a sado-masochistic twist. A story of two male rivals battling for the affections of an unseen -- and ultimately irrelevant -- woman suddenly becomes a predatory mating dance designed to make the viewer wonder if one or both or neither of the men are closet cases as well as mental cases.

Much of whether this type of film works relies more on the actors than the story. Sir Laurence Olivier tackled the character of Andrew in the 1972 version and played the part too obviously as being either archly cunning in the way of a James Bond villain or as a simpering twit. Michael Caine more than held his own as Milo, but here Caine (now the elder statesman of British actors) inherits the role of Wyke and he wears the role with greater ease. Being comfortably condescending when his Andrew is on the attack and believably unnerved when forced to reveal his vulnerable side, Caine underplays deftly. His adversary is now Jude Law. Though roughly the same age as Caine was at that time, Law now skews Milo much younger and plays him as much more of a quixotic, explosive wild card -- and proves to be better at assuming disguises. Caine's grim calm and Law's nervous energy create a contrast that lends their confrontations greater tension -- sexual and otherwise. Caine and Law have much sharper rapport than Olivier and Caine did.

Unfortunately, while being leaner and meaner, the new SLEUTH doesn't hold up to the end any better than the old SLEUTH, because, either way, you still face a tough question -- not of who is smarter than who, but why should we care at all. There is nothing particularly likable or admirable about Andrew or Milo. Despite the fact that the characters beg for our sympathy at various points -- win, lose or draw -- neither film ends with a sense of triumph or a sense of gleeful satisfaction or even an appreciation of the cruel irony. Even if you get sucked up into the funhouse gimmicks and hambone theatrics of the Mankiewicz's version, you still have nothing but a silly, trivial entertainment. At least the Branagh version takes risks by exploring a sexual undercurrent in the story and peels away the surface to find the cold, hard center. But even so, beyond respecting it's sense of style, there is little reason to invest much emotional -- or even intellectual -- interest in the nasty little chess game that unfolds.
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I want my hour and a half back !!
doctor_riboh17 September 2011
This film came recommended to me by a good friend who knew I was into revenge type films, a bit of a slow start (I found it quite arty-farty ) I watched it to the end hoping there was some kind of epic twist to make it all worth the wait, very disappointed, literally the only nice thing about this movie was the house it was filmed in.

If you are in to movies where everything is based in 1 spot, with very poor attempts of using witty 'English' language to make an already boring plot more interesting...Then this one's for you.

To sum it up, it's like a musical but without the singing.

rated 1/10
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