Monday, 24 May 2010



A bunch of British character actors get together in a shabby sitting room and swear at a hapless Frenchman with a bag on his head. A slightly better than usual pitch for a Friday night reality show on Channel 4, but not in itself much of a recipe for a film, which would probably be a decent 50-minute TV play about wounded male ego if they hadn't almost doubled its length with more "very strong language" than Danny Dyer stubbing his toe, Danny Dyer watching his team go down four nil to Kirkcaldy United, or Danny Dyer trying to put together an Ikea wardrobe in a small room. Then again, one suspects, Danny Dyer making a nice cup of tea and settling down with a well-thumbed paperback of Sense And Sensibility.

The basic thrust of the frankly inexplicably titled 44 Inch Chest is that Ray Winstone is a proper 'ard 'un, and his wife (Joanne Whalley) is 'avin' it orf wiv a French waiter. Winstone and his mates snatch the Froggie, bang 'im in the back of the van and truss 'im up like a good 'un while deciding wot to do wiv im. Said mates include Ian McShane and Tom Wilkinson, and there's a fabulously repulsive turn by John Hurt as a kind of Albert Steptoe gone completely mad, so great chunks of the movie are like the torture scene from Reservoir Dogs except with five Michael Madsens and a lot more swearing.

I bet the writers are big Derek And Clive fans. The language is the main problem here: in a 90-minute film there are apparently 162 F-words in there (according to the IMDb trivia page) and enough of the dreaded C-words for the BBFC to give the film an 18 certificate despite there being little violence and no sex. Once a couple of dozen of these little bullets of profanity have ricocheted around your living room, the swearing does get wearing and there's not much else on view. To be honest I'm not convinced of its poetic nature as alleged by the makers - there's poetry in There Was A Young Man From Nantucket but that doesn't necessarily mean it's any good - and if you want rude words set to a rhythm then there are a lot of rap albums out there with a Parental Advisory sticker on the front. This is Parental Advisory as well - don't show it to your parents.


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