Sleuth (Redux)

by Alan Rapp on March 11, 2008

in Home Video

Kenneth Branagh steps behind the camera to give us this remake of the 1972 film (also starring Michael Caine).  Out today on DVD the film, as it was in the theaters, is more of a curiosity than anything else.  Check out our review inside the Full Diagnosis.

Sleuth (2007)
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“I heard a rumor you wanted to marry my wife.”

In 1972 Michael Caine starred as Milo Tindle, a young man forced into a deadly game of wits when he meets his lover’s husband (Laurence Olivier).  Sleuth remains a favorite of many fans of Caine, and ranks among IMDb’s top 250 films.  This remake does not.

Last year director Kenneth Branagh decided to remake the film enlisting Caine to play the older role this time and casting Jude Law as the new Milo.  The result is a curiosity and although it may be of interest to film students or as a comparison to the original, there’s little to recommend this version on its own merits.

Both Caine and Law are fine, but they are undermined by oddly homoerotic moments (do these guys want each other or Wyke’s wife?) and a plot twist involving Law in heavy make-up as a police inspector which doesn’t work because 1) we know it’s Law, and 2) there’s no reason to believe the character of Wyke (Caine), who is presented as logical and very intelligent, wouldn’t be able to see through the make-up as well.

It’s not a terrible film, and those who haven’t seen the original and aren’t able to see Law through all that make-up (or don’t mind that they do) might be able to enjoy this more than me.  A side note – those who enjoy distinct set design might get a kick out of the production here in a house the Deetz from Beetlejuice might feel right at home in.  It’s by far the most interesting character of the film.

I’m actually surprised they didn’t find a way to package both the original and the new version together in a deluxe set.  As a comparison piece this film has some value, but on it’s own it’s a disappointment.

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