i’m a fan of the weird movie. i like endings that don’t entirely make sense or aren’t conclusive. i’m good with plots that wander a bit or seem to take strange detours.
with all this in mind, i rented 44 inch chest from netflix a few weeks ago; i liked the original effort of the writing/directing team, sexy beast, so this one seemed just up the right street.
and it is — and then again it isn’t.
slightly spoilery plot summary: colin diamond, small-time businessman and part-time thug, is trying to deal with the emotional aftermath of his wife wanting to leave him. some of his buddies have clustered ’round to try and help him out — or try and help themselves out. or both. with this in mind, they’ve kidnapped the younger man diamond’s wife wants to leave him for and have him binned up in a wardrobe, awaiting diamond’s decision as to what to do with him. cast includes ray winstone (diamond), ian mcshane, john hurt, tom wilkinson.
chest is much, much slower than beast — not that this is a bad thing. almost all the action takes place either inside diamond’s head or in one small, dingy room in an abandoned office building the men have taken over for the duration. there are only about 6 characters; 5 of them are on-screen for 90% of the film. if you don’t like the look of these guys, get used to it or watch something else; they’re here for the long haul.
it isn’t — complicated, exactly, but it can get hard to follow, particularly the last third as events spiral in and out of taking place entirely in diamond’s head as he flashes back to the last confrontation with his wife. i think there’s a strong possibility that the entire movie simply takes place in his head — the other men are elements of his personality arguing and debating endlessly over his wife and her lover and what should be done about them.
going against this perception of things is the fact that the other men pretty clearly have lives outside of diamond; the first time we see archie, for example, he’s having dinner with his mother. meredith is spending a placid evening with a rent-boy. they seem to exist as people in their own right — but they also serve to reflect what’s going on in diamond’s head as he fights with himself over what he has done and what he could — or could not — do now. archie really just wants him to make a decision; mal would like to see some blood split, as would old man peanut; meredith is just interested in how the whole thing plays out and there is a brilliant scene where he talks diamond down from an imminent panic attack. mcshane’s rough black velvet of a voice is hypnotic to listen to.
i’m not sure what i think about chest, though — i’m going to need to see it a few more times before i figure out what i think about what’s going on. on the whole, if you saw and liked sexy beast, i’d say you’ll probably at least enjoy being puzzled by this. other than that, i’m not entirely sure who might like it! ray winstone fans, definitely; this is a great role for him — the emotionally under-developed, slightly thick, injured bad-boy thug is what he does best as far as i’ve seen. he doesn’t necessarily want to hurt anyone, but he knows that’s what he should do and what he should want — so why doesn’t he want to do it?