44 Inch Chest
Director: Malcolm Venville
Writers: Louis Mellis, David Scinto
Cast: Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane, Joanne Whalley, Melvil Poupaud
44 Inch Chest is a gritty drama about a man, Colin Diamond (Ray Winstone), whose wife, Liz (Joanne Whalley) cheated on him with another man. Naturally, this revelation destroys Colin. His friends, Meredith (Ian McShane), Old Man Peanut (John Hurt), Archie (Tom Wilkinson), and Mal (Stephen Dillane), kidnap the interloper - refered to only as Loverboy - for the purpose of allowing Colin revenge by bloody murder.
This simplistic premise sets in motion a compelling meditation on the nature of human relationships as Colin attempts to make the gravest of decisions. This is an unusual motion picture in several respects. For one, the plot is moved forward primarily through dialog rather than action, a characteristic that is becoming increasingly rare in modern movies. I almost thought that 44 Inch Chest was based on a play given the limited sets - the vast majority of the movie takes place in the room where Loverboy's fate is being decided. When I checked, I found that the screenplay was actually an original.
Stylistically speaking, 44 Inch Chest features some dark, yet still beautiful cinematography that strongly enhances the subject matter and effectively setting the mood. The dialog with it's simultaneously crude, yet poetic nature, has a Quentin Tarintino quality to it and the cast members clearly relish delivering their lines.
Acting wise, the cast members are clearly at the top of their game and the chemistry is electrifying. John Hurt as the crotchety Old Man Peanut, gives a potent, stand out performance. Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Dillane are more restrained, but no less worthy. Ian McShane is suitably suave as the gay and sophisticated Meredith.
At the end of the day, 44 Inch Chest is worth seeing for the brilliant writing and great acting. For people who enjoy well made films that do not rely on mindless pyrotechnics and hollow special effects, this movie is a welcome gift.