Sunday, April 20, 2008


Master and Apprentice

Today marks the Remakes day, where I take a look at two movies which are given an up-to-date treatment, and not unlike the general others, these have the creative forces back to lend certain credibility that it's not run of the mill product.

First up is Sleuth, where Michael Caine returns as one of the two roles, but this time, playing the other character opposite the one he was casted in the original, making way to protege of sorts, Jude Law, to take over. It's quite interesting that this marks the second time that Law is playing a Caine character in a remake, the first being the titular role in the movie Alfie. If this keeps up, I guess by the time he rolls around his senior citizen age, he might as well gun for the role of Alfred Pennyworth in a Batman movie.

I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive when I learnt of the running time of this remake, that it's almost half of what the original was. I wondered which aspects of the original story would be summarized or worse, compromised, and in the worst case, presented only one half of the story. And I was pleasantly surprised that this is not a blind shot for shot remake, but one which retained the core essence while providing a very shiny, glossy veneer to spice up the visuals. The original had looked too much of a stage play with quite gaudy sets, but in Kenneth Branagh's update coupled with Harold Pinter working on the screenplay, it became more posh and classy. And gone too is the creepily irritating clown.

As stated earlier, Michael Caine now plays Andrew Wyke, a renowned novelist whose wife is having an affair with Jude Law's Milo Tindle, a hairdresser. Wyke sets up a meeting with Tindle and the two begin to play a cat and mouse mind game, relying on wit and trading gentlemanly insults laced with puns in a one-upmanship fashion, both out trying to prove their worth to each other, and of course to stroke their own egos in the process. To tell you more will be to spoil the fun, but suffice to say that things do get a little interesting and extreme as the story goes along, at no time being boring,

Even though this is a remake, it will not bore those who have watched the original, as there's a little bit more explored and offered toward the end, which will certainly raise some eyebrows, and take you by surprise. Of course the tightening of the story helped, and doesn't indulge too much on non-necessities that dragged the original. Chemistry between Caine and Law is excellent as they feed off each other's energies in fleshing their roles, and Caine was actually more menacing than Laurence Olivier in the original as Andrew Wyke. Law on the other hand brings the usual roguish charm to Milo, and in a particular scene, I thought he probably would have been in contention as The Joker, and should Christopher Nolan require someone to step into the late Heath Ledger's shoes, then look no further - in any case Nolan has replaced actors for the same role before, so it shouldn't really come as a surprise if the Joker character survives past The Dark Knight.

Between the original and this remake, I would prefer this version instead, for its relatively more palatable run time, and keeping things moving forward consistently. Being updated for the modern times also helped, so if I were to recommend anyone interesting in watching Sleuth, go for the remake instead. The score for the movie is also mesmerizing too, and earns brownie points.

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