Anything staring Ray Winstone really has an unfair advantage when it comes to subjective criticism from me. He truly is the (oh god, I’m gonna say it) daddy of English cinema, brandishing equal quantities of London gangster charm, together with an eloquence generally not immediately associated with east end cockney characters.
44 Inch Chest centers around our beloved Winstone and draws us even closer as the film unravels amongst the maelstrom of his mid-life whilst he regales us with tales of his wife’s recent departure. Surprise leads to shock, leads to grief, leads to anger, leads to violence. And here we have Winstone in his element, a blubbering wreck of a man, in the company of close friends providing support to a man who is quite clearly not all there. This sense of detatchment from his body gives him an unpredictable edge that provides the film with tense underpinnings from start to finish. As Winstone’s friends bring to him the reason for his wife’s departure, a sickeningly good looking, young, latino waiter, to justice, Winstone acts as judge and jury in deciding the fate of ‘loverboy’.
I’m a fan of the slow burner, preferring a film to dazzle me with dialogue, score and cinematography. 44 Inch Chest has championed these merits, but not without red faces. With a record breaking amount of C words in a film, it really isn’t one for the family. Most coming from the ancient John Hurt too, making the obscene language comical, if not surreal.
There is a finely woven list of characters in this too and despite the warm, friendly nature of each and every one of them, you know they’re not the type to meet in a dark alley. Ian McShane as Meredith is an addictive personality, an openly gay, yet smooth as silk govenor who shares anecdotes as they are dipped in honey and savoured by the audience. As for John Hurt, I’ve yet to see a 70 year old with so much grit and verve, he is a fiercely energetic actor and frightens and entertains in equal measure.
Entertaining and memorable, 44 Inch Chest is a true love story. Not the hollywood style of wishy washy romance, but the proper, married for 20 years love story. Watch and spread the word.