Sleuth (15)

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The Independent Culture

Strewth, more like. This is Jude Law's second attempt to reprise a role first played by Michael Caine. Three years ago he starred in a pathetic remake of Alfie, now he's doing a variation on a character Caine played in the 1972 thriller Sleuth. What next – Blame it on Rio? The Muppet Christmas Carol?

Caine himself now plays opposite Law in the part Laurence Olivier took, thus creating an old stager-young pretender frisson between them. Well, that's the idea. Whatever cross-currents of tension and loathing Anthony Shaffer's original award-winning play conjured have been utterly dissipated by Kenneth Branagh's painfully stagey direction and Harold Pinter's script, whose evocation of menace is so poorly managed it feels like self-parody. Tim Harvey's minimalist production design only throws the stiltedness into sharper relief. As for the two leads, take your pick: Caine is unconvincing, Law is strictly unwatchable.

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