44 Inch Chest
The "chest" of the film's title refers to the dimensions of an armoire. Said old-school furniture item contains the bound–and beaten body of a young loverboy who made the mistake of shtuping the wife a ruthless London gangster, Colin Diamond (Ray Winstone). The title of this theatrically stage-bound, profanity riddled, tale of agonizing misogyny and goopy desire for revenge shared by five men is appropriately provocative. We watch as heartbroken Colin discusses poor Loverboy's fate with his dicey mates, played by Ian McShane, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane and John Hurt (as an especially saucy gangster named Old Man Peanut). Flashbacks reveal how Colin's wife Liz (Joanne Whalley) notified husband that they were finished because she'd met another man. Colin flips out, demands the guy's identity, punches Liz, and sends her running through a plate glass window. Liz, it turns out, is the resilient type. After capturing his prey, Colin turns more sad than mad. It takes plenty of alcohol-fuelled encouragement and discussions with his mates for Colin to reach a conclusion about Loverboy's fate. The men curse up a blue streak, allowing for colorful expression by some enormously talented actors. The movie is a bit of a parlor game in which getting introduced to the guests is the object of play. Slumming it, Dillane, Hurt, McShane, Wilkinson, and Winstone chew up the scenery with their pitch-perfect inflections and verbal dynamics. As an actors' showcase, the movie rocks. From a narrative viewpoint however, the film relies on too many cliché crutches to be fully worthy of such a gifted treatment.
Rated R. 94 mins. (B) (Three Stars)