Friday, October 17, 2014

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (2003) 3 of 4

Sometimes we have to act before we realize something that we should have realized before, or before we get an idea.
Starting this blog makes me realize that I just don't have time to write full reviews of every movie I see, not and finish the other writing I want to do.  In some cases, a few notes are going to have to suffice.
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead is an uncompromising crime film set in London.  I use that word "uncompromising" too much, but it's warranted here: this film may not hate its audience, but it's not going to do you any favors.
This movie took some getting used to.  The photography is nicely gritty, but I found the direction oddly functional and simple, almost TV-style.  Finally, I realized that it's a 70s-retro style, by an older director (Mike Hodges) who made his name in that decade. I suspect its partly autobiographical, with the wounded main character -- he's coming to grips with his younger brother's suicide -- something of a stand-in for the director, who's had a fascinating but checkered career.
The movie is written by Hodges's contemporary Trevor Preston, and I imagine them saying, we may be two old bastards, but we're the old bastards that can make this film.

** remainder contains moderate spoilers **

About half-hour in, there's a shocking scene and I stopped watching, finding the film seamy and unpleasant.  I intended to give up on the movie, but there's something sincere and honest about it, and I had to come back the next day and finish it.  I don't think it's a great film, but it's got a rawness about pain and grief that can't be easily dismissed. Just don't expect a fun time, or Tarantino touches.  This is more of a slap-in-the-face film, with fine acting and its own pacing.
It also doesn't bother with a lot of exposition, which made me realize how used I am to movies that hold my hand -- for example, we never find out Charlotte Rampling's relationship to Clive Owen.  I suspect she's his mother, but I may be wrong; the synopsis I saw called her his ex-girlfriend.  What do you think?
Some will crab about the ending: I think he lied about his intentions because he suspected her phone was tapped, and it was.    

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