Starring: Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Ian McShane, Stephen Dillane, Melvin Poupad
Director: Malcolm Venville
Writer(s): Louis Mellis, David Scinto
Cinematography: Dan Landin
Original Score: Angelo Bandalamenti
Running Time: 95 Mins.
When the writer, or writers, behind a film get their names above the title on a film’s poster it is highly unusual, unless of course your name is Quentin Tarantino! So the noting of writers Mellis and Scinto above the title of 44 Inch Chest should give some indication of what to expect, especially if you know that their last film was Sexy Beast starring Ray Winstone, who once again features here. So profanities galore, a lot of (more mature) cockney geezers spouting said profanities and a clever character driven plot, straddling said cockney geezers, that holds a surprise or two,well that covers all the bases that Sexy Beast hit, sadly 44 Inch Chest can’t really emulate its forebears success, try as it might!
The main problem this time around is not so much the lack of plot, more the fact that it builds up to a good premise and does literally nothing with it! Left by his wife for a younger, more handsome French waiter Winstone goes into meltdown, and his motley crew of friends decide that said French Waiter needs teaching a lesson, so holed up in an abandoned house, meaning nearly the entire film is set within the confines of one room, these crooks and unsavoury characters egg Colin on to wreak his revenge while Colin goes through emotional turmoil…
This in itself is an intriguing premise, akin to Reservoir Dogs, and certainly the actors and characters here are strong enough to carry such a confined setting with little else to distract, but, and this is a big but, the story simply goes nowhere, which would be fine if as a character study there was some depth, but again there isn’t. Winstone as the epicentre of the “drama” does the empty shell part well enough, spending most of the film either shouting or in tears but he is so deeply unlikable with next to no redeeming features you simply cannot sympathise with the inner turmoil of his wife’s infidelity.
Thankfully the support cast are on hand to provide some real entertainment value, McShane and Hurt and the wonderfully named Old Man Peanut are the standout’s with Peanut’s persistance at turning the air blue in the style of Shakespearean prose and the bickering with McShane’s suave, gay sharp suited card shark Meredith are classic. Sadly good characters as they are they are given nothing to do reduced to idly chatting about the merits of Sampson and Delilah in the hallway as Colin tries to decide what to do with the infidel, if he can stop moping for ten minutes!
Another problem posed by the one room setting is the need for some direction to give the story a little flash or style, sadly the visuals are as flat as the plot and the same can be said of the unaffectng score meaning that this is a film which comes nowhere living up to its promise especially given the form of the above the title “writers”.
44 Inch Chest is a sorry disappointment, while far from terrible you would rightly expect more given a glance down the cast list, that said it is the (support) cast that are the only redeeming feature with McShane and Hurt, as ever, on excellent and highly entertaining form, it’s just everything else that is lacking!