Sleuth is SLICK. Sleuth is stylish. Sleuth is surprising on many levels. It is the ultimate game of cat and mouse with stakes that are always fun to explore cinematically. Adultery. Revenge. Murder. You know, the classics.
The first thing that grabs you when watching Sleuth is the look. Director Kenneth Branagh does a marvelous job structuring the set ups and set pieces. He’s more the directer of Hamlet here than the director of Thor. Haris Zambarloukos’s cinematography is very clever, with specific visual elements that make every shot interesting. This is a huge treat for the avid cinephile, and a huge help for the antsy. I say this because Sleuth is based on a play. And that means that it is a very dialogue heavy film. However, the dialogue between stars Michael Caine and Jude Law is excellent. Sorkinesque. The late great Harold Pinter’s words and conversations form a maze of clues, hints, and misdirections that always lead us to fun places.
Branagh can be given a pat on the bum for getting great performances from the aforementioned Caine and Law. Michael Caine has never been better. Those of you who only know him as Chris Nolan’s Alfred….SHAME ON YOU! You should have known him first as Alfie….or Carter…or Lawrence. He gives those that did a reminder of how great an actor he is. And is there anyone out there who can legitimately question the talents of Jude Law? Love him or hate him, his ranging body of work and performances in them are undeniably solid. A fact that doesn’t change here.
I would be remiss in not mentioning a comparison to the original 1972 Sleuth with Sir Laurence Olivier and a younger Michael Caine in the Jude Law role. The easy answer is that the original is better. Of course its better. It has Sir Laurence F*#KING Olivier for Christ sakes! However, watching Caine swap roles in the newer version and seeing what he does with it gives the newer film value. Not to mention, seeing modern day filmmaking techniques used to do things the original could not.
I’m sure people were aware when Sleuth came out in theaters, but few went to see it. That is a real shame because films with style AND substance need to be seen more in Hollywood so they can be made more in Hollywood. Give it a butcher’s…then tell me I’m wrong.