44 Inch Chest (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner13/01/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

44 Inch Chest is worth seeing for the superb performances from its terrific cast and some enjoyably off-the-wall moments but it's also extremely stagey and never quite comes together.

What's it all about?
Directed by Malcolm Venville, 44 Inch Chest stars Ray Winstone as British hard man Colin Diamond, who has a less than macho reaction when his wife (Joanne Whalley) announces that she's leaving him for another man. Shocked to see their mate in such a terrible state (and over a woman, they note in disgust), Colin's friends (Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane, John Hurt and Ian McShane) helpfully kidnap his wife's lover (Melvil Poupaud) and lock him in an abandoned building, where they attempt to persuade Colin to take his revenge.

The Good
The performances are brilliant and it's a genuine thrill to see Winstone, Wilkinson, McShane, Hurt and Delane all bouncing lines off each other in the same room. Winstone is terrific as usual but his distraught state means that his character is subdued for most of the film, so it's the supporting characters who shine, particularly Stephen Dillane (as Mal) and Ian McShane, who gets the lion's share of the best lines as acerbic, laid back homosexual Meredith.

The dialogue is excellent, particularly when the characters are riffing off each other while trying to intimidate Poupaud; the sequence of wordplay that allows McShane to deliver the line “the erotic world of Jacques Cousteau” is a definite highlight. Similarly, Venville makes some pleasingly off-the-wall directorial choices, such as the decision to illustrate John Hurt's Samson and Delilah story with footage from the Victor Mature / Hedy Lamarr movie, or a fantasy sequence with characters dressed as Parker from Thunderbirds.

The Bad
That said, the fact that the action is mostly confined to one room means that the film feels extremely stagey throughout. Similarly, the plot itself is largely unsatisfactory, as very little actually happens and there are loose ends that don't get tied up, such as the fate of Whalley's character.

Worth seeing?
44 Inch Chest is ultimately something of a mixed bag but it's worth seeing for the enjoyable dialogue and the sheer cinematic thrill of seeing Winstone, Hurt, McShane, Dillane and Wilkinson all bouncing off each other in the same room.

Film Trailer

44 Inch Chest (18)
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Content updated: 25/04/2019 06:46

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