Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (2003)

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2006

British filmmaker Michael Hodges in his 2003 film I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD re-examines plots elements, situations and characters that he had used in his 1971 masterpiece GET CARTER. The protagonist of the film is Will Graham (played by Clive Owen), former boss of London underworld who few years earlier had what his friends and associates euphemistically call "breakdown". Graham has abandoned his career and now lives like a drifter in rural Britain supporting himself with all kinds of odd jobs. In the meantime, his younger brother Davey (played by Jonathan Rhys-Myers) became minor, but very popular drug dealer whose clientele consists of London's celebrities and aristocracy. Davey's good life is brutally interrupted with abduction and violent rape. When Will decides to visit his brother, he is greeted with the news about his mysterious suicide and even more baffling autopsy reports. Will quickly concludes what caused his brother's death and decides to avenge him, even if it means returning, at least temporarily, to the violent world he had left years ago.

What worked wonderfully in GET CARTER - slow place allowing characters and situations to develop to the smallest detail - fails Hodges in this film. This is mostly due to Trevor Preston's script that leaves many questions unanswered, which leads to confusing, un-cathartic and unsatisfying end. Some of the characters and subplots, including gang boss who wants Graham out, are redundant or underdeveloped. The main mystery of the film, on the other hand, is revealed too early, and Hodges succumbs to typecasting by having Malcolm McDowell as chief villain. Although watchable, I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD is huge disappointment to all those who, based on author's reputation, expected another gangster genre classic.

RATING: 4/10 (+)