FILM / Slaughter of The Innocent: Adam Mars-Jones on a spectacular miscasting in John Schlesinger's The Innocent, and the headline-raiding Shopping . . .

Anyone who is familiar with Ian McEwan's source novel will be wondering, after reading the cast list or seeing a poster for John Schlesinger's film version of The Innocent (15), what part there can be in it for Sir Anthony Hopkins. The answer is there isn't one, but there he is anyway. The choice of Hopkins to play the character of Bob Glass, the man in charge of a secret operation in Cold War Berlin, is one of the most spectacularly self-destructive pieces of star casting in the cinema. He has the same effect on The Innocent, a cinematic vehicle of moderate pulling power, as a horse lying in front of a milk-float. The fact that the beast is a thoroughbred and has won prizes really doesn't come into it.

There's such a thing as casting against type, of course, but there's also such a thing as casting against reason. It's not just that Bob Glass is bluff and brusque, and so the reverse of the characters Hopkins has been playing lately (like C S Lewis, or Stevens in The Remains of the Day). That in itself might be refreshing. But Bob Glass is also American, not casually American like Hannibal Lecter, vanishingly American, but stridently, definitively American, cigar-chomping, shoulder- punching, military American. American as Yank. Bob Glass is the first American that the hero, Leonard, encounters, the person from whom he learns what Americans are like, or how they seem. Historically too this is a time and place where different nationalities are working together, and constantly rubbing up against each other with different approaches to similar tasks.

There's little point in Schlesinger orchestrating parallel sequences of a British officer and an American one dealing with their respective underlings - the Brit formal and constantly complaining, the American abrasively friendly - if we're actually wondering if the two actors overlapped at Rada. Hopkins' accent is variable, but even at its best it is somehow surrealistic, like Marlon Brando's attempts at a British one. We're always thinking of the folly of this actor, for whom extroversion is as natural as flying, playing a character for whom it is as natural as breathing, to the point where it can be used as a disguise.

When Anthony Hopkins ends a speech with the phrase 'One more thing', audiences may hear the line as Lecter-ominous or Stevens-subservient, but they are certain not to be thinking of an American intelligence agent in Cold War Berlin. Hopkins doesn't even take up much screen time, and it's a sort of reverse tribute to him that his disastrousness overshadows the film, his wrongness overwhelming much of that which is right though not very exciting. The film's British hero, for instance, is played by an American, Campbell Scott, but he fits comfortably inside the part. He wears duffle coats and Viyella shirts, the very textiles of inhibition, and is perfectly convincing as someone who can't make himself heard even when he thinks he is shouting. Isabella Rossellini, meanwhile, adds another portrait to her portfolio of beautiful women who get beaten up a lot.

McEwan's novel is crammed with themes: men and women as different countries even when allied, betrayal personal and political, the impossibility of burying the past, the fragility of love. All of these are present in the film, but not vivid. Schlesinger these days seems like a rather tame, conventional director, most notably in the area of Gerald Gouriet's music, which is clumsily used to signal changes of mood that need no such semaphore. Only in one sequence, where the film shies away from the novel's explicit account of its central atrocity, does Schlesinger show an obliqueness of approach that is a sort of boldness. While hideous things are done indoors, Schlesinger's camera, instructed perhaps by Hitchcock's, roves around a courtyard full of innocent activity picking up disturbing undertones: a paving stone chalked red for a game of hopscotch, a carpet being beaten, a red garment in a basket of laundry, a potato being peeled. But the gain of a single subtle sequence seems a small thing to set against the loss of so much intensity and conviction.

Paul Anderson's Shopping (18) is a nicely cheeky attempt to make a glossy British action film with youth appeal, and still have change from pounds 3m. It starts well, with brooding helicopter shots of hellish industrial premises, smoke stacks solemnly burning and a properly pounding soundtrack. Production designer Max Gottlieb has gone for a poor man's Blade Runner look to go with the marginally futuristic script: the action takes place largely at night, in rain and steam and flame. This is London without the landmarks, unsuitable for postcards. Gottlieb manages one enjoyable location, a deserted railway yard where the trains have psychedelic faces painted on them, as if they were disaffected hippie descendants of the Rev Awdry's Thomas and James and Gordon.

Jo (Sadie Frost) is waiting to collect Billy (Jude Law) in a stolen car when he is released from prison, and the first thing they do is steal another car, one he won't be embarrassed to be seen in. These early sequences have the larky feeling of a criminal version of Through the Keyhole. Jo and Billy are outraged by the tacky music in the sound system of a BMW, and by the superannuated video game in the glove compartment. Do people have no taste, no self-respect? Theirs is a truculent consumerism of the dispossessed.

Anderson's script ransacks the headlines for topical symptoms of social collapse: joy-riding, ram-raiding. By showing youth culture almost entirely absorbed in these pastimes, he goes for a little dystopian prophecy, but in other respects its portrait of Britain is perversely cosy. The only figure of authority is Jonathan Pryce, playing a policeman as baffled and well-meaning as any village bobby. The police don't have guns, don't have pursuit vehicles capable of catching a BMW even driven in reverse, and until the very end of the film, have no grasp of tactics. The way they go about breaking up a sort of stolen car gala is by shining a bright light downwards from a helicopter, announcing 'Stay where you are' from a loudhailer, and making no real attempt to pursue the fugitives when they scatter.

Shopping's rudimentary critique of materialism would have more force if the film wasn't busily trying to turn itself, with the help of some mildly stylish camera work, into a slick commercial object. The characters feel that there's all the difference in the world between a Porsche in flames and a Metro, say, in the same condition, and the camera seems to agree with them.

Of the young cast, only Sadie Frost as Jo has any sort of power or presence. Unfortunately her character is a pseudo-strong woman, allowed some biting criticism of the macho behaviour about her, as long as she Stands By Her Man - or in this case sits in the passenger seat as he drives towards apocalypse - in the final reel.

(Photographs omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions