44 Inch Chest
Running time 95 minutes
Written by Louis Mellis and
Directed by Malcolm Venville
Starring Ray Winstone, Joanne Whalley, Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt, Stephen Dillane, Ian McShane
If you value your I.Q., avoid a horror called 44 Inch Chest like V.D. This time capsule for misogyny is a dated attack on women that seems like an artifact from Screw magazine. A creepy garage owner (Ray Winstone again, with a cockney accent so lugubrious I could understand only every 10th word) learns his wife (Joanne Whalley) is leaving him for a younger man. He beats her up, trashes the house and suffers a nervous breakdown, and then, while she lies covered with blood in a ditch on the side of the highway, he enlists four vile, vicious buddies to kidnap and torture the bloke and lock him in a rotting old house until the self-pitying jerk recovers from his catatonia long enough for them to kill him. Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt, Stephen Dillane and Ian McShane—four fine actors reduced to scrap—give the worst performances of their careers as the four putrescent mates who spout filth and hatred for 95 disgusting minutes. Four old pudgepots avenging a cuckold is the worst kind of testosterone-laced male ego delusion masquerading as high drama that it has ever been my misfortune to suffer through.
Moronically written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto, who scripted Sexy Beast, this dreck is the work of someone called Malcolm Venville, a first-time director with a degree in cinematic extortion. In a feeble attempt to demonstrate how loathsome women are, John Hurt even tells the entire labyrinthian plot of Samson and Delilah, replete with film clips of Hedy Lamarr wielding a pair of scissors. Claustrophobic, set entirely in one room with everyone babbling drivel but saying nothing, all in a series of ugly, exasperating close-ups. There’s a dream sequence in which the wife returns and tells them off, but nothing really ever happens. They all wallow in hatred, rage and profanity, then leave. Nobody learns anything and everybody goes away dejected and beaten—especially the audience.