Oldboy remake (2013): Film review - sympathy for Spike Lee's Mr Vengeance
(18) Spike Lee, 105 mins Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley
Spike Lee's remake of the cult South Korean thriller opens like a baroque version of Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend. Josh Brolin is Joe Doucett, a divorced alcoholic on a self-destructive rampage round a modern American city.
It's 1993. He's a salesman with a deal to close but his obnoxious, drunken behaviour lands him in the gutter. It's at this point he is imprisoned in a cell made up to look like a motel room and framed for murdering his ex-wife. Twenty years later, he's released and ready for revenge against his unknown tormentor.
To complain that Lee's version of Oldboy is preposterous is to miss the point. The film is intended to be lurid, bloody and as wildly over-determined as the most far-fetched Oedipal tragedy. Some of the performances (notably Sharlto Copley's camp, sneering villain) are so hammy that they invoke memories of Vincent Price in low-grade B shockers.
Accept the excesses, though, and the film has a lot going for it. Lee seems inspired as much by Hitchcock's Vertigo as by Park Chan-wook's original movie. Helped by a Bernard Herrmann-like score from Roque Baños and by Sean Bobbitt's atmospheric cinematography, he successfully gives the film a delirious, dream-like quality. Brolin, a jowly, physically imposing actor, tackles his role with utter conviction, giving the film a gravitas it would otherwise have lacked.
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 2 Qataris pledge to expand Canary Wharf
- 3 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Penny Dreadful, series 2 episode 1, review: It is still gloriously silly
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
Eurovision 2015: What date and time is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Indiana Jones sequel confirmed by Lucasfilm - but will Harrison Ford return to the franchise?
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General election live: Booths open at 7am across the country on polling day