Sunday, December 5, 2010


Come on in.

An ideal film for winter, as icy and chilling as a perfect gin & tonic. Anthony Shaffer's play gets rewritten by Harold Pinter, restaged by director Kenneth Branagh and production designer Tim Harvey, performed by Michael Caine and Jude Law, and observed by you.

The story unfolds in a gorgeously chilly, always-in-motion house filled with surveillance technology, contemporary British art and reflective surfaces.

Indeed, Caine and Law serve as mirrors to each other in myriad ways...

...not the least of which is Law playing a role essayed by Caine in the film's previous version. The house, as many cinematic interiors before it, is a reflection of a character's psychology, though whose psychology exactly is open to question - the battle of wills between Wyke and Tindle rages unabated, with the house changing allegiances and favoring each in turn throughout.

...but the house is a liminal zone that fills the whims of Pinter and Branagh as well.

This ladder, for example, exists within the house for no apparent practical purpose but to serve Wyke's frame job in act I. Was this plan in the cards during the house's design phase?

The film serves gorgeously as an ambient film, drawing you into its vicious spaces thru screen upon screen. It's bound to its single set like a stage play, but takes you through it in a way only possible in film. The set reveals its spaces just as Pinter's languages opens its own pit traps. Fall in.

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