Opening 20 Dec 2007
Sleuth, directed by Kenneth Branagh, is a stylized remake (or some say transformation) of a stage play by Anthony Schaffer. It is not the first time a film has been made based on Mr. Schaffer's play. Michael Caine, who stars in Mr. Branagh's adaptation also appeared in the original 1972 film of this well known play. I have never seen the stage play or the first film, so I did not have any pre-conceived notions about the film before I viewed it.
The movie opens with Milo Tindle (Jude Law), a struggling hairdresser arriving at the country estate of Andrew Wyke (Caine), a successful novelist of thrillers. Milo's intention is to secure a divorce for Wyke's wife, with whom he has been having an affair. Behind the walls of Wyke's country estate we soon discover lurks a high-tech wonderland complete with surveillance cameras, sliding walls, and other hidden surprises. This serves as a wonderful setting for the bizarre mischief that takes place between the two men.
Wyke will grant his wife a divorce, but only if he's certain he'll be rid of her for good, and given Tindle's profession and Wyke's spouse’s fondness for all things good and expensive, he suspects she'll come crawling back to him and his money before long. So Wyke has a proposal. He wants Tindle to "steal" some of his diamonds, unload them, and use the money to support his wife in the style that she is accustomed to. Wyke in turn gets the insurance money, and his wife will be out of his hair. But of course the plan is not as simple as it sounds, and everyone is not truly open about their real intentions. Wyke and Tindle begin to play games with each other, and we the audience are left to discover what the games are, who's playing them, and whether or not they are lethal.
Harold Pinter, the renowned playwright, wrote the screenplay, and his dialogue sits well in the hands of Michael Caine and Jude Law. They make the movie worth watching with their witty, coy exchanges. Apparently, those that saw the original film are not so pleased with Mr. Branagh's attempt. However, as someone who is new to the story, I found Mr. Branagh's version quite simply fun. (Karen Engelke)