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Reservoir Mongrels: Malcolm Venville’s “44 Inch Chest”

Reservoir Mongrels: Malcolm Venville's "44 Inch Chest"

About three quarters of the way through 44 Inch Chest, a battered and bloodied Melvil Poupaud, sitting handcuffed in a chair, looks at the camera for the first time. The expression on the art-house heartthrob’s face betrays fear, bewilderment, and possibly a tinge of regret. It’s almost as if he’s thinking: “I was in Rohmer’s Conte d’été, I was in Desplechin’s Un Conte de Noël, now I’ve got a wordless part, tied to a chair, in Un Cunt de Londres . . .”

In truth, so overused is the “c” profanity in 44 Inch Chest that its power is fractionally distilled to trace levels within the first reel—and this, coming from a movie whose greatest selling point according to the UK poster is that it is “from the writers of Sexy Beast.” While it’s encouraging that the stock of screenwriters has risen to the point of providing taglines for movie posters, I seem to recall that in Jonathan Glazer’s seductive gangster elegy (almost ten years ago, now), Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) first uttered the c-word on his belated entrance in reel two, a perfectly pitched moment which invoked menacing disquiet and nervous laughter: “Gotta change my shirt, I’m sweating like a c***.” As the marketers are so desperate to cash in on 44 Inch Chest’s superior stable mate (this completes a writers’ trilogy for David Scinto and Louis Mellis, with Sexy Beast and 2000’s Gangster No.1, but their collaboration has since ended in acrimony), they presumably won’t object if we make the relevant comparisons. Read the rest of Julien Allen’s review of 44 Inch Chest.

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