44 Inch Chest (2009) – We are Legion… a Legion of Cunts

The 1990s were dark days for the British Film industry.  Yes, films were being made.  Yes, excellent films were being made : Reputations were formed, new territory was broken and new talent was uncovered.  But all of this was going on despite a frankly bizarre obsession with what can only be called ‘geezer films’ : These were cheaply produced and heavily hyped crime dramas littered with cockney accents and pointless violence intended to replicate Guy Ritchie’s success at cashing in on the rediscovery of the crime film in the wake of the rise of Quentin Tarantino.  At its best, the genre produced films like Paul McGuigan’s Gangster No. 1 (2000) and Mike Hodges’ Croupier (1997).  Intelligent and psychological films that harkened back to classic British crime films of yore such as John MacKenzie’s The Long Good Friday (1980) and Mike Hodges’ Get Carter (1971).   At its worst, the genre gave us sweary, lairy films like Edward Thomas’ Rancid Aluminium (2000) and Kevin Allen’s Twin Town (1997).  Right smack bang in the middle of these two trends was Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast (2000).  Sexy Beast is a film that attempts to explore the psychology of an old lag forced out of retirement by a criminal fraternity that sees him as little more than a skill-set.  It is also a film that found an audience thanks largely to its more accessible aspects such as Ben Kingsley swearing and Ray Winstone making a fool of himself in a tiny pair of red speedos.  44 Inch Chest marks the return of some of the creative talent behind Sexy Beast — most notably Ray Winstone and Ian McShane who practically reprise their roles from Sexy Beast — in a script penned by the same writing team of Louis Mellis and David Scinto.  The result is a film that shares all of Sexy Beast’s theatrical intensity and sculptured vulgarity but adds to it a psychologically fractured intelligence brought to bear on a single question : What would you do to the man who fucked your wife?

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