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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Ian McShane
John Hurt
Tom Wilkinson
Ray Winstone.
Directors
Malcolm Venville.
Screenwriters
Louis Mellis
David Scinto.
Running Time
94 minutes

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44 Inch Chest
Sexy Beast 2: The Legend Of Winstone’s Paunch


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Plot
Colin Diamond (Winstone) is shattered when his wife Liz (Whalley) says she’s leaving him for another man. Colin’s underworld-affiliated friends abduct the wife’s lover and keep him in a wardrobe in a seedy flat while Colin decides how to take his revenge.


Review
44 Inch Chest
After broken hulk Colin (played by a shaggily greying, wheezy, paunched-out Ray Winstone) has blubbed in the wreckage of his home, for all the world like Bella after being dumped by Edward, snippets introduce his posse of dubious friends — elegant gay gambler Meredith (Ian McShane), middle-aged Mum’s boy Archie (Tom Wilkinson), sly chancer Mal (Stephen Dillane) and Albert-Steptoe-From-Hell Old Man Peanut (John Hurt). Then, aside from the odd flashback with Colin’s erring wife (Joanne Whalley), almost all of the film takes place in one dingy room, or just outside in the hallway, as the blokes talk at Colin and he tries to decide what to do to the French waiter (Melvil Poupaud) his friends have tied up inside a wardrobe.

It’s implied that these people are crooks, and they certainly spiel the ‘cunt this’ and ‘cunt that’ brand of dialogue associated with London gangland movies lately, but the only real topic of the evening is Colin’s marriage problems. The fact that he lives in a world where a wife asking for a separation is grounds for kidnapping, torture and murder adds some suspense, but isn’t really important to Colin’s misery. However, audiences might wonder why we should care about a swine who shoves his wife through a window when she ticks him off — and how come neither of them thought he was less than ideally suited to family life before this crisis.

Though violent gits whining that nobody loves them aren’t exactly anyone’s favourite company, 44 Inch Chest gets by on the quality of its performances. Director Malcolm Venville doesn’t do as much with a limited setting as, say, is achieved with Exam, but Sexy Beast writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto keep up the patter. Poupaud, alarmingly overqualified for a wordless role, wisely keeps quiet, but all the Brits — including Whalley when she joins the boys in an odd fantasy sequence — relish their precise, profane talk. McShane is the most fun, indulging in a sexual fantasy about Oliver Reed, but Hurt is wonderfully vile as he spits out dentures along with bilious hatred, Wilkinson projects his inner softie, and Dillane edgily gets shots in as the tagalong who bullies to avoid becoming another victim.


Verdict
A great evening at the theatre, maybe. It has enough straight to-camera emotion and anecdote to provide clips for a wealth of acting awards nominations, but too rarely feels like a movie.


Reviewed by Kim Newman


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Average user rating for 44 Inch Chest
Empire Star Rating

44 Inch Chest Review

An actor's movie with a strong cast, but 44 Inch Chest can't quite redeem its static plotting and tonal shifts. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 10:31, 22 January 2012 | Report This Post


Derek and Clive versus emotional numbness. Nice.

Four stars says Nuts magazine. 'Oh-ho', say my eyes. 'From the makers of Sexy Beast', boasts the blurb. 'O.K then', glint my kitchen-sink-crime-loving eyes. The fact is, this is a very different beast. What you people hate about it, I suspect, is the audacious novelty of John Hurt, Ian McShane and Tom Wilkinson playing jovial Cockney gangsters. Yes; I understand; the novelty is contrived. And yet, all cinema gangsters are, just as cowboys and (for Christ's sake!) vampires. Still, this as far fro... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Then again who does? at 07:49, 20 March 2011 | Report This Post


Derek and Clive versus emotional numbness. Nice.

Four stars says Nuts magazine. 'Oh-ho', say my eyes. 'From the makers of Sexy Beast', boasts the blurb. 'O.K then', glint my kitchen-sink-crime-loving eyes. The fact is, this is a very different beast. What you people hate about it, I suspect, is the audacious novelty of John Hurt, Ian McShane and Tom Wilkinson playing jovial Cockney gangsters. Yes; I understand; the novelty is contrived. And yet, all cinema gangsters are, just as cowboys and (for Christ's sake!) vampires. Still, this as far fro... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Then again who does? at 07:49, 20 March 2011 | Report This Post


I agree that this alleged movie would doubtless have a greater impact had it been a play. Indeed much of its form and structure is in the format of a play being set as it is prdominantly in a single room. I think criticisms of its plot are based on a misapprehension of the intention of the writers. I don't believe that the whole film was about the hard men in the room. I think they were just dramatic extras to provide relief sometimes comic to deal with a very difficult subject matter i.e di... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sena212 at 00:46, 14 January 2011 | Report This Post


overacted shit, screaming 'c++t' evert 30 seconds should only please danny dyer fans ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by anakin73 at 18:14, 30 October 2010 | Report This Post


44 Inch Chest

The film is often gripping and funny but it rarely feels like a film but more like a play. Its a breath of fresh air from most British gangster movies but its also one of limited appeal. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Soprano168 at 11:45, 27 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 44 Inch Chest

44 Inch Chest   A film where 90% of it is set in a single room isn’t the most cinematic sounding of films.    Ray Winstone stars as the main character Colin whose wife is planning on leaving him.  This destroys him, causing him to get a group of his friends together.  His friends being Archie (Tom Wilkinson), Meredith (Ian McShane), Old Man Peanut (John Hurt) and Mal (Stephen Dillane).    The group then decide the best way forward is to kidnap Co... More

Posted by Death_Row_Marv at 14:18, 25 January 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Loved it!

Awful awful film, it was just 5 words copy and pasted into dialogue, with no plot, nothing interesting, if I had to recall anything I can only think of a line, and that would be: "C**t f**king wifef**keing wifef**ker ain't ya, you wifef**king c**t." What a clever film. Sigh. ... More

Posted by Ethanial at 22:18, 15 January 2010 | Report This Post


Loved it!

Have to admit I loved this film. I'm at a loss as to how Mr Newman can give this movie 2 stars and films such as Journey to the Centre of the Earth 3D 4 stars. Did anyone see that? It is one of the most shamefully bad movies I have ever seen. Kim, hang your head in bitter shame. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sonnychiba at 18:30, 11 January 2010 | Report This Post


RE: 44 Inch Chest

Dissapointing given this is from the writers of Sexy Beast. It feels like they have bunched together a load of English actors renowned for their black humour gangster style (Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, and Tom Wilkinson for example) similar to how 'Four Rooms' bunched together the big rebel directors at the time (Quentin Tarantine and Robert Rodriguez). The similarity between these two films is, unfortunately, that they turned out rather bad. Not awful, though. 5/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robwillphill at 19:12, 10 January 2010 | Report This Post


44 Inch Chest

I have to agree with the review, by the time you get to the end you're just left feeling 'is that it?' The whole thing seemed far too much like a filmed play, I'm guessing the intention of the dialogue was to be Pinteresque but theres only so many times you can get away with your characters saying cunt before it loses any shock value or humour. I suppose the whole thing is supposed to be an examination of macho behaviour and how men behave around each other but it doesn't really go anywhere... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Indio at 00:00, 10 January 2010 | Report This Post


This is kind of good, actually. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 04:07, 07 January 2010 | Report This Post


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