There is great anticipation surrounding the release of the remake of Sleuth on November 23. It’s a pared down version of the original, directed by Kenneth Brannagh from a script by Harold Pinter, and stars Michael Caine and Jude Law. And yes, I have seen it, but I’m not intending to get into a review of it now (rest assured, I will nearer the time).
This is to give you the chance to set your videos and DVD recorders for a rare TV showing of the original, which stars Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine (then taking the role played by Jude Law). I was fortunate enough to be able to get along to an NFT screening of the original recently (before I saw the new version), which was doubly a pleasure as I’d only ever seen it on TV before.
Long it is, but it definitely repays the time with a crackling black as coal script by Anthony Schaffer that gives both actors plenty to work with. Surfaces can be deceptive and we peel back the charming layers on both characters to see the game-playing, prejudice, danger and madness underneath as the story veers from high farce to life and death struggle.
I won’t give too much of the plot away as it’s one of those films you have to have unfold in front of you or it’s spoiled. Essentially, it has a three-act structure (the new film changes the last act almost entirely) and revolves around the fateful meeting between author Andrew Wyke and Milo Tindle, his wife’s lover.
Sleuth remains the only film to have its entire cast nominated at the Oscars (admittedly, it is small) and provides a masterclass in the art of screen acting by both Olivier (relishing every chunk he bites out of the furniture) and Caine. The former seems to effortlessly slip in and out of various accents, displaying faultless timing, and the latter oozes charm and menace in equal (and sexy) measure?and more than keeps up with his illustrious co-star. Don’t miss it.
Sleuth will be shown on Sunday, October 21 from 9pm to 11.45pm on ITV3.