Calgary International Film Fest: Sleuth

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A remake of the 1972 original, Sleuth is the story of a well-to-do crime writer (played by Michael Caine) who is approached by his wife's lover, an out-of-work actor and part-time hairdresser (played by Jude Law). Over the course of 86 minutes, the two wage psychological war against each other in an attempt to prove their worth as adversaries.

The newest incarnation of this story is markedly darker than the original. Gone is the eerie whimsy portrayed by original stars Sir Laurence Olivier and Caine-who played the younger man in the 1972 version. Most interesting about the film is its elements of having a plot within a plot. As the movie progresses, the writer fabricates a story for the actor to play through, eventually besting him. The actor returns the favour, concocting another plot for the writer in order to pay him back. This play back and forth creates several stories within the film's overarching one.

The use of the writer's house as the only scenery also adds to the gloomy flavour of the film. Its modern aesthetic and cool lighting work well to portray a cold attitude, echoed by Caine and Law's ruthless performances.

Nail-biting suspense and well-cast characters make the latest Sleuth a formidable portrayal of mind games at their best.