Tim Purtell
March 14, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Sleuth

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
86 minutes
Limited Release Date
10/12/07
performer
Michael Caine, Jude Law
director
Kenneth Branagh
distributor
Sony Pictures Classics
author
Harold Pinter
genre
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a C+

It’s a bad sign when you’re more interested in the decor (”Ooh! A Ron Arad chair!”) than in Caine’s and Law’s attempts to outfox each other as a wealthy author and his romantic rival in Sleuth. Director Kenneth Branagh and writer Harold Pinter’s overthought update of the 1972 thriller piles on Pinteresque nastiness, but it’s much ado about nothing. EXTRAS In a commentary, Caine recalls Laurence Olivier (who played the author in ’72) struggling with his performance until finding a little mustache. Even he can’t resist remarking on the Arad, dissing the pricey, custom-made piece as ”a scary old chair.”


We’re Dyin’ For
The 1972 version of Sleuth may not be Hitchcock — but then that wasn’t director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s intention. Michael Caine (in the Jude Law role) and Laurence Olivier were both Oscar-nominated for their extravagant scenery-chewing in this appropriately playful, if a tad creaky, adaptation of Anthony Shaffer’s Tony-winning 1970 drama. The DVD has been out of print for years, and an ancient VHS copy we rented recently was unwatchable. Bring Sleuth back!

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