A wealthy mystery writer invites his wife’s lover to his estate and enlists his help in staging a home robbery.  Of course not all is as it seems and their curious encounter turns into a battle of wits marked by deceit, disguises and, oh yes, death.

Well, this was a deliciously devious Crime Club entry chock full of twists, turns, shocks, and surprises.  Granted, the first “disguise” does require some suspension of disbelief, but the narrative curveballs this movie throws at you are genuinely clever, making for a hell of an entertainment viewing.  And despite the fact that the entire story takes place in a single interior location, the narrative never flags, progressing at a deliberate pace in the early goings and then ramping up as the game of one upmanship unfolds.

Michael Caine is brilliant as the poor Milo Tindle, but Sir Laurence Olivier (who received an Oscar nomination for this performance) is absolutely masterful here, tearing it up as the plotting Andrew Wyke.  I’m willing to bet he never had more fun in a role.

Some nice little touches throughout: the maze at the beginning of the movie that tips its labyrinthine plot, Andrew’s prophetic love of games, Milo’s ironic use of riddles, and then that final, fitting  twist.

Sleuth served to remind me how few contemporary thrillers are really all that clever.  It would seem the bar has really been lowered in the years since this movie was released.  As they say, they don’t make them like they used to.  And that’s a shame.

So, what did you all think of Sleuth?

Join us Friday when our Crime Club reconvenes to discuss the 200 crime film Sexy Beast…


5 thoughts on “September 14, 2020: The Crime Club convenes to discuss Sleuth!

  1. The stage play DNA of “Sleuth” really shows in this adaptation. Right down to a set reset and costume and makeup change at the end of Act 1 when intermission would normally happen. I feel that Anthony Shaffer just took his play’s script, scratched out “stage” and wrote “screen” instead.

    Even so, I really enjoyed this movie. Both performances were great! I especially loved the deception in the opening credits where other characters like Inspector Doppler are given credit with made up actor’s names. I kept waiting for these other characters to make an appearance. When “Inspector Doppler” first appeared it was pretty obvious who it was (although the makeup was excellent!) but I had to think twice because I remembered reading the actor’s name in the credits!

    My only problem was that Monty agreed with Anthony’s ludicrous jewel stealing caper way too quickly. And the whole sequence of getting into the clown costume was pretty dumb. In my head canon Monty figured out what Anthony was up to and played along, maybe with the hope of blackmailing him later, but didn’t expect it to escalate to actually holding a gun to his head. It’s the only way I can explain how smart Inspect Doppler was but how gullible Monty was.

    Anyway, I’m really enjoying this opportunity to watch some movies that I would never consider normally. You’re expanding my cinematic horizons, Joe!

    I watched “Knives Out” last night. I think that would make an excellent addition to the Crime Club! And if bank heist capers qualify then an Australian movie called “Malcolm” is near and dear to my heart if you’re looking for something a bit more fun.

  2. I remember Sleuth when it came out. Definitely need a rewatch! I second the Knives Out suggestion, really enjoyed it.

    I’ve been AWOL as I had no power from Tuesday into Sunday. Just got my wifi back this morning. Utah got slammed by two days of hurricane force “downslope” winds. Insane. My neighbor’s tree came up by the roots and fell into my yard. I could see at least six downed mature trees from my front porch, and this was the case from below SLC north. Just insane. Power is nice. At least I have a gas stove and could make coffee and omelets. Some people are still not up and running yet.

  3. Your comment about clever thrillers made me think of Dead Again, written, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh with his then-wife Emma Thompson co-starring. As a writer, I usually see the plot twists coming. This is one of the few movies that has managed to surprise me.

  4. @MaggieMayDay Relieved to hear you are okay and got your power back.

    That was one helluva freaky wind storm!
    SLC confirmed wind gusts just shy of 112 mph!!!
    Multiple Semi trucks down!
    Heavy weighted trash cans flung!
    Large thick trees uprooted across town!
    Power knocked out pretty much everywhere across the greater area!

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