Stars: ** 1/2
Rating: R for language and violence
Run Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Director Kenneth Branagh returns to the big screen with an artsy remake of the 1972 cat-and-mouse thriller based on Anthony Shaffer’s spare playlette.
A thriller just shy of actual thrills. A sexy young hairdresser (Jude Law as Milo Tindle) appears at the fabulous digs of a successful novelist (Michael Caine as Andrew Wyke) to discuss the terms of a divorce. Seems pretty boy is shacking up with Wyke’s ex and she wants to get on with her life.
Milo Wyke has an agenda, an intricate plan to thwart his wife’s desires and
that of her current boy toy. The brass tacks are down and dirty as Wyke pitches
Branagh utilizes his best smoke-and-mirrors technique to establish some tension in the chilly, post-modern museum Wyke calls home.
The two Brits clearly enjoy their verbal sparring and arch repartee, particularly Caine who played the ardent middle-class lover (against Laurence Olivier’s Wyke) in the original.
The juxtaposition of stark reality and stagy suspension of belief is an awkward fit, never quite locating a consistent flow. The claustrophobic theater is sharp and smart in Acts I and III, but the energy drops like a stone in Act II when the local constable gets in on the act.
Ultimately it’s a semi-satisfying game, set and match for one of our lucky blokes. Revenge is a dish best served cold.