Directed by: Malcolm Venville
Starring: Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane, Joanne Whalley
How far would you go to revenge a broken heart? How far down the rabbit hole would you let your friends drag you? That’s two questions that Colin Diamond has got to figure out.
Colin Diamond, Ray Winstone, is an “honest” businessman. You know, the kind of businessman who has access to abandoned flats where you can stash a warm body for a day or two. Well everything is coming up roses for Colin until one day he comes home to find his wife a little distant. Liz, Joanna Whalley, after some prodding discloses that after twenty one years she has found someone else. Colin doesn’t take this very well and soon we find him starring at the ceiling of a wrecked home with Harry Nilson’s I Can’t Live playing on his smashed up hifi. He calls Archie, Tom Wilkinson, who dutifully comes over and tries to get him straightened up.
Archie collects Colin’s buddies and they all go out to kidnap the waiter who Liz was sleeping with. After letting the unfortunate young man stew in a wardrobe overnight Colin and his mates all assemble to presumably torture and kill Loverboy. Colin is so broken up about losing Liz though that he’s not really sure what he wants. He thinks he wants to inflict pain and kill the man who cuckolded him and he knows that is what his friends expect of him. After all certain community standards must be upheld. As Colin stares down his quarry tied up across the room and with his peers in the hall waiting for him to do something. Colin slowly loses his mind listening to imaginary versions of his friends and Liz debate the fate of Loverboy.
If you are the superficial type you could call this a London pensioner’s version of Reservoir Dogs. After all you’ve got a cast of wonderful, interesting actors, a dialog heavy script, and an empty room containing a man tied to a chair. That’s where the similarity ends however. While Reservoir Dogs is a bit cartoony it doesn’t flinch, 44 Inch Chest is played straight up despite falling into a little bit of surrealism here and there. It is more true psychologically but it chickens out in the end and refuses to confront the rottenness of our protagonist and grants him a measure of undeserved redemption. There are a few other problems with the story. It branches of into unnecessary little vignettes too often but it’s hard to complain because watching and listening to John Hurt, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Dillane is just so much fun.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 Aspect ratio which a little bit more square than the usual 2.35:1 which is the usual widescreen aspect ratio. The filmmakers chose the 1.85:1 aspect ratio for aesthetic reasons. The film looks good. Most of the scenes take place in sparsely lit rooms but even the dark corners have detail and don’t turn into gray black mush. There’s very little grain as well despite the dark scenes. I never noticed any aliasing or moire or any other compression artifacts for that matter.
The audio is presented on Dolby Digital 5.1 in English only with English and Spanish subtitles. Angelo Badalamenti provides a haunting but spare and subtle score. The mix is good. The score and soundtrack never overpower the dialog and I did not find myself having to ride the volume control up and down constantly. I never noticed any distortion or compression artifacts.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The DVD comes in a standard case. The artwork features floating heads of the cast, but why not with a cast like this. The artwork and copy are representative of the movie. The marketers aren’t trying to pull a fast one. There is an audio commentary with the director Malcom Venville along with a informing interview with him. There is the standard making of featurette that is worth taking a look at. One neat bonus are short little epilogues with some of the actors explaining what happened after the end of the movie.
Okay so their may be some problems with the story, but it really is hard to turn away from these actors and this dialog. I mean where else are you going to see John Hurt, Ian McShane, Tom Wilkinson, Ray Winstone spitting out such great dialog. This ones a keeper.
The Movie: 7/10
The Video: 8/10
The Audio 8/10
Bonus Features: 7/10
Overall (Not an Average): 7/10