Another Rotten Remake: ‘Sleuth,’ 2007

Stay away from this one, boys and girls.

Sleuth in 1972 was one of the hit movies of the year, featuring an incredible cat-and-mouse game between an aging, fabulously wealthy and successful mystery novelist (Lawrence Olivier) and his wife’s young lover (Michael Caine).

But the 2007 remake, starring Michael Caine as the writer and Jude Law as the lover, directed by Kenneth Branagh with a screenplay perpetrated by Harold Pinter, stinks on toast.

It’s mostly Pinter’s fault. His dreary, existentialist worldview has inspired him to write a lot of plays about dreary, existentialist people, and this one is about the dreariest of the lot. All the fun provided by the original has been removed, to be replaced by f-bombs and not-so-sly homosexual hints. Watching this movie is only slightly more fun than eating newspapers soaked in dishwater.

The slow pace of this movie makes it seem much longer than it is, which is more than long enough. They should’ve called it Sloth instead of Sleuth.

Well, it does go to show you how much has changed from 1972 to 2007–everything, in fact, except Harold Pinter, who is still a pill. If you’re ever stuck with a party you want to poop, send for Harold.

The original was witty, full of surprises, full of really interesting observations on the whole genre of detective stories, and, above all, fun. All of this has been dropped from the remake. The two characters–the only two in the story, in fact–are obnoxious, potty-mouthed bores. Certainly not what we expect from Branagh and Caine.

The only thing that could’ve saved this movie was an attack by a giant chameleon, which of course was not on the cards.

But I’ll say this for it. If you can’t figure out what’s wrong with the age we’re living in, the remake of Sleuth will probably clear that up for you.

6 comments on “Another Rotten Remake: ‘Sleuth,’ 2007

  1. I’m glad I didn’t see this one. I went to NY city to see an off-Broadway production with Patrick MacNee playing the writer’s part. I forget who played the wife’s lover. I think it was around 1971. It was a delight to see. I’ll steer clear of this recent remake. I’d hate to see all the brilliant dialogue between the two characters chopped up, dissected, and replaced but gutter talk. The charm of the play was mostly all in the dialogue.

  2. Not much for movie theaters since the near-death of the drive-in shows (dating myself lol). But I’ll be sure to avoid this if it shows up on television, which I don’t watch much of either. Thanks for the heads-up!

    1. Good point, but then again, when I talk to myself I usually get the answer I want 🙂

Leave a Reply