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Sleuth

3.4 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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Product Description

Directed by critically-acclaimed director Kenneth Branagh, Jude Law and two-time Oscar-winner Michael Caine (1987, Best Supporting Actor, Hannah and Her Sisters; 2000, Best Supporting Actor, Cider House Rules) join forces in this sharp-witted, modern adaptation of the 1972 classic, Sleuth. Locked in a high-tech English manor, bound in a deadly duel of wits, Andrew Wyke (Caine) and Milo Tindle (Law) come together as English gentlemen to discuss the matter of Wyke's wife: the woman both are sleeping with. But as wit becomes wicked and clever becomes cutthroat, Wyke and Tindle's game of one-upmanship spirals out of control, in an escalating chess match that can have only one outcome: murder.

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Thirty-five years after Michael Caine played the role of crass boy-toy Milo Tindle in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s screen adaptation of Anthony Shaffer’s hit play Sleuth, the actor takes over his 1972 co-star Laurence Olivier’s role of rich cuckold Andrew Wyke in Kenneth Branagh’s updated remake of the same story. Where Olivier brought a seething, upper-class disgust to mystery-novelist Wyke’s attitude toward Tindle--who is having an affair with the former’s wife and has come to the writer’s mansion to request that Wyke divorce her--Caine basks in the comic absurdity of a superficial man like Tindle (Jude Law) led by the nose into one or another illusion of happiness. The new film’s script by Harold Pinter has the arid air of expectation familiar to his work, the weight of things not said whenever someone speaks. That’s a considerable weight indeed, in Sleuth’s story of a psychological contest between two very different men who despise one another beneath outward civility.

The story finds Tindle arriving at Wyke’s home. Following various small humiliations, he is invited by the older man to steal his wife’s jewels in a scheme that benefits everyone. There’s more than meets the eye to Wyke’s proposal, however, leading to unexpected developments and surprises in the film’s second half. Branagh’s direction is suitably cool and sleek in the beginning, when the characters’ emotions are still in check and the oddness of Wyke’s gadget-filled world is still entertaining to behold. (The film’s set design is one of its strongest elements.) But once voices rise and threats appear and the like, Branagh can’t seem to penetrate the surface of things. Unlike Mankiewicz’s take, the new version is caught up in the insularity of the characters’ tit-for-tat gamesmanship, lacking the intriguing, class-warfare subtext of the earlier work. A gay angle thrown into the last half-hour sits uncomfortably and irrelevantly with the rest of the material. The best thing about this Sleuth are the performances of Law and Caine, who could have been even better with a great script. --Tom Keogh

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Beyond Sleuth


On Blu-ray

Audio CD


Special Features

  • Audio Commentary with Kenneth Branagh and Michael Caine
  • Audio Commentary with Jude Law
  • A Game of Cat & Mouse: Behind the Scenes of Sleuth
  • Inspector Doppler: Make-up Secrets Revealed

Product Details

  • Actors: Harold Pinter, Michael Caine, Jude Law
  • Directors: Kenneth Branagh
  • Producers: Jude Law, Kenneth Branagh, Simon Moseley, Marion Pilowsky, Simon Halfon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 11, 2008
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001221DU6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,907 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sleuth" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Kyle VINE VOICE on April 2, 2008
Format: DVD
I loved the 1972 version of "Sleuth" where Sir Laurence Olivier played the cuckolded Andrew Wyck and Michael Caine played cocky young Milo Tindle who'd stolen Wyck's wife of 14 years. When I heard the film had been remade with Caine now in the role of the elderly Wyck, I had to see how he'd handle himself. While Caine was interesting in the reprised role, if you can see only one version of "Sleuth," see the original with Olivier and Caine.
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I don't know if I would go so far as to call the original film version of "Sleuth" a classic, but it is a darn good film and features virtuoso performances from Sir Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.

Approximately a year ago, I heard of the plans to remake "Sleuth". Groan. Can't they at least try to come up with a new idea in Hollywood? Change the character's names and the title and call something it new? Why mess with a classic? Then, I remembered the original is a very good film, but not a classic. Michael Caine and Jude Law were signed to play the roles Olivier and Caine originated. This could be interesting. Michael Caine appearing in both versions? My interest was piqued. When I heard Kenneth Branagh was directing from a Harold Pinter screenplay, I was hooked.

The new version has some good things going for it, but the bad things far outweigh the good making "Sleuth (2007)" a disappointment.

Milo Tindle (Law), an out-of-work actor, arrives at the estate of Andrew Wyke (Caine), a hugely successful mystery novelist. Wyke has summoned the young man to discuss the affair he is having with his wife. Milo insists Wyke's wife is leaving him and Wyke is only too glad to let her go, he has a mistress of his own. But he wants the separation and divorce to be permanent; he doesn't want his ex-wife running back to him when Milo's money runs out. Wyke suggests Milo `break' into the house and steal some jewels worth One Million Pounds. Wyke has the name of a fence who will give Milo 800,000 pounds for the jewels and that should last them a while. Andrew has thought of everything. Milo agrees and Wyke uses his home's elaborate electronics and surveillance system to guide him through the process, to make it seem real.
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The cozy, traditional English exterior still stands but the inside has been gutted and replaced with a cold, sterile design. The plot still works until it degenerates in the Pinterian excess of the final third. These scenes play like a revival of The Collection and may feel more dated than the original version of Sleuth. Certainly, no demerits on the acting front, though. Both stars are superb.

There's an entertaining commentary with Branagh and Michael Caine that's at it's best when Ken quizzes him on the original film. (We also learn, remarkably, that when Jude asks him in the film "What's it all about?" this wasn't an inside joke and wasn't even spotted until the film was finished. I assumed that and Milo's new job as a part time chauffeur were throwaway Alfie asides.)
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I just saw this film on DVD, having missed it last Fall: even in Los Angeles it was at the theater for only a brief time. I had been waiting in eager anticipation for the DVD. Am I disappointed? No. Did I like it? Absolutely. Is it a perfect film? Not quite. Is it flawed? Marginally.

Only a very ill-informed person would not know of the 1972 film of the same title. Sleuth And this is part of the problem, for the plot turns on a surprise twist which will be no surprise if one has seen the earlier film. In other words, if you already know what's going to happen, well, let's just say the fictive required suspension of disbelief becomes a much bigger hurdle.

And then again, there's something about the pace and choreography of the film: it seems a little off beat, meaning it's either too fast, or misses the beat--but this too may be due to my excessive familiarly with the earlier masterpiece. I saw it at the theater when it débuted, and I've owned the original DVD issue for years: in fact, I watch it at least every six months. Sleuth

The original film has much more humour: it floats lighter on the wing. The original film was a much "richer" film; this one is very sleek and minimalistic. And this film of course has a much harder edge--as one would expect in the 21st Century. Both films have exquisite set design--no doubt about that: there's plenty to look at always. The sound track is okay; but the sound track for the original was excellent.
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Kenneth Branagh said that in Law and Caine, he was working with two Rolls Royces. And it's true. Caine is always good and he has the subtler role here. But Jude delivers an astonishing performance. He is chilling, breathtaking, beautiful, seductive, and dissembling. Forget the tabloid stories, pretty boy looks and rom-coms like "Holiday". This is a great actor. There is one scene towards the end where Law is viciously seductive, playing Caine's character, teasing him along with the promise of homoerotic play, and with his badly dyed blond hair and dazzling beauty, it was like watching a malignant Marilyn Monroe. Earlier in the film, he does a turn as another character, and he is unrecognizable. He's just brilliant. BUT--and it's a big BUT--this is not really a movie. It's a two-person play and it has that stagey, slow-moving theatrical feel to it. If you watch it as a play, and imagine yourself in a theater watching two acting giants go at it, you'll be enthralled. If intellectual and dialogue-driven plays are not your speed, then you will likely be bored. I just re-watched it years after it was filmed, and it did not deserve the tepid reviews. Perhaps it was ahead of its time. But it's worth watching for Law's magnificent performance alone.
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