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44 INCH CHEST, 2009
Cast: John Hurt, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Tom Wilkinson, Joanne Whalley, Dave Legeno
A jealous husband and his friends plot the kidnapping of his wife's lover with the intention of restoring his wounded ego.
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From the writing talents of Louis Mellis and David Scinto (best known for both being behind the screenplay of Sexy Beast (dir. Jonathan Glazer)) comes 44 Inch Chest (dir. Malcolm Venville), a gritty British drama with a cast all doing a high level of performance. But even with a great cast, this doesn’t quite live up to its standards for young adult audiences.
The film opens up with Colin Diamond (Ray Winstone) lying in a smashed-up house and lying on the floor crying. We soon find out that Diamond has just split-up with his wife Liz (Joanne Whalley) and he now wants to kill the man who she slept with.
Followed by kidnapping of the mysterious lover and tying him up in an abandoned house, Diamond’s numerous gangster friends encourage him to kill the man that ruined his marriage. With Diamond in a drunken state and confused on what he wants to do, the film sees how the course of one evening develops and how the main character is dealing from the end of his marriage with the woman he truly loved.
All of the leading cast members all do a terrific performance and they could easily gain award nominations for their portrayal of the different gangster-type characters.
Each performance manages to bring something new to the table and helps to bring variety to a story that has a very simple premise. Ray Winstone plays the depressed drunk Colin Diamond in a way that is seen as making you feel depressed for the character and wanting to slap some sense into him at the same time, even though he mostly sits in a chair most of the time. John Hurt brings solid humour as the old-fashioned gangster Old Man Peanut and makes his lines feel very dark while being funny at the same time. And finally, Ian McShane’s cool, gay Meredith brings in a very modern gangster character to appeal more towards young adults since the other characters do feel very much like they’ve come from the 1930s gangster films.
In the second half of the story, the audience is treated to seeing more of Ray Winstone on screen when he is deciding what to do with his wife’s lover and since this offers us in what he is thinking, we get to see a gentle and angry side of his character that helps to make the audience keep attention for what’s happening on the screen. Even though the cast members are very well known, it may not be the appeal that young people may see in this.
Winners of the British Independent Film Awards for Best Screenplay with their writing for Sexy Beast, Mellis and Scinto have written some great dialogue and a good premise, but their screenplay falls short for it’s story structure and the unsure target audience they’re aiming at.
The beginning of the story is done really well since we get a quick glimpse into each of the individual characters’ lifestyles and how they all jump into an easy attempt of kidnapping the lover in the first few scenes. We then get to see what the chemistry of their friendship is like and this brings in some great insight of how they each think about one another, especially how Old Man Peanut hates Meredith’s sexuality. But we get to see how they each try to help the broken down Diamond and all of these things help to make the first half intriguing and likable.
However, the second half of the story takes quite a weird turn and this is what made me feel like the structure of the story was out of place. This is because we get to see how the main character is thinking and this is done by a few different dream-like sequences that I found hard to understand due to the fact that it’s never clearly explained what the character is learning from these bizarre thoughts. The people they probable were aiming at for this would be the fans of Ray Winstone since he is getting more screen time and I thought that the writers could’ve explained these dream-like sequences more for people who didn’t understand how the character was feeling, rather then giving the actor an opportunity to show off his acting skills. It’s an interesting idea, but I found it out of place and too stretched out compared with the first half of the story.
Even though it’s got huge names behind it, this simply doesn’t feel very new and even though it tries to offer some interesting characters for different age groups, it didn’t make me love the film as much as I wanted to. If you loved Sexy Beast or like to see something aimed at mature audiences, this is probably more of you’re kind of thing.
44 INCH CHEST