Monday, January 09, 2006

Vengeance, the subtle way...

I ended up watching Mike Hodges I'll Sleep When I'm Dead over the course of two nights. It would seem that it's been gangster week at my house. This is not my typical genre, yet there is just something so atypical about ISWID, from box cover to cast (Clive Owen, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Charlotte Rampling and Malcolm McDowell) that I just had to see what was going on here. It is a brooder, but all the better for it. Like the previous post, The Beat My Heart Skipped, ISWID is quite the sleeper. It does not ultimately squeeze the best performances out of its cast - but it would seem that this too is all the better. The actors are so consciously meta - in a way that reminds me of 1999's The Limey - your reading of the characters is so dependent on your understanding of their actors prior roles. McDowell for instance taps into his perv roots of films like Caligula and Cat People. Hodges recognizes it is through this guise that we see him, and the aged McDowell becomes an older Caligula or Paul (his incarnation in Cat People). It becomes, then, an exorcise in nostalgia as our actors become weathered versions of their former characters (divorced from themselves).

Aesthetically, Rampling works the best here, though her performance is, as I jibed with a friend, Charlotte Rampling doing her best Charlotte Rampling imitation. Owen is stoic as ever, and his performance is almost invisible. Jonathan Rhys Meyers has never tried so hard at acting in his life and is the worse because of it. It is a nice watch: a sleeper with some old friends. It is by no means remarkable, but there is a really odd sexuality that runs through the film. Caligula has grown up, and he's more the wretch than when we saw him last.


Blogger J said...

It's really the odd sexuality that makes this film for me. It's got a twist as you might imagine from seeing other films of the genre -- but its twist is what solidifies it as a a noticably strange and quite decent film.

5:36 PM  

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