44 Inch Chest

Language of revenge explored by Sexy Beast writers

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44 Inch Chest
Directed by Malcolm Venville
Starring Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Ian McShane


Despite the title, this is not a Robin Askwith tribute. The chest belongs to Ray Winstone, playing Colin Diamond, a geezer in meltdown, after the departure of his wife (Joanne Whalley). Though it could equally refer to the wardrobe in which the wife’s lover is imprisoned for half of the film.

Written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto, 44 Inch Chest isn’t a sequel to Sexy Beast. It plays more like Reservoir Dogs, scripted by Harold Pinter, with five men in bad suits exercising – not exorcising – their ire.

The chatter is confined to the murky room where Diamond’s compadres – notably Ian McShane as a menacing gay gangster, and John Hurt, channeling Albert Steptoe – curse poetically. Fantasy sequences puncture the claustrophobic mood, while offering a realistic depiction of how the jealous rage of a psychopath might unfold, allowing the possibility that the whole thing is a dream from Diamond’s unconscious.

Winstone hurtles, like a punch-drunk Hamlet, into a black hole of pathos. De-fucking-plorable fun.

Alastair McKay

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