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I'll Sleep When I'm Dead  

This is the latest from Mike Hodges, whose “Get Carter” (1971) is said to be a classic film noir (I’m embarrassed to admit that I still haven’t seen it).   In this movie he puts an elliptical spin on familiar elements of the noir and revenge genres.   Clive Owen plays a former crime boss who, for unexplained reasons, has dropped out to live in the woods as a shaggy lumberjack.   He returns to avenge the death of his younger brother.   The character of the ex-criminal forced by circumstance to return to “the life” is not new, but Owen plays it with subtle intensity.   What is fresh is the film’s treatment of the violation that leads to the younger brother’s death, so that one theme becomes the shattering of the male ego.   Some scenes are too heavy-handed and verge on cliché, but on the whole Hodges mounts the film artfully and intelligently.

- Jul 29, 2004  

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