Branagh Presents 'Sleuth' at Venice
Seattle Post Intelligencer, 30 August 2007
VENICE, Italy -- Make no mistake: Kenneth Branagh's "Sleuth" is not a remake of the 1972 film.
Both are set on grand English estates. Both are based on the play by Anthony Shaffer. And both star Michael Caine. But the similarities end there.
Inside Branagh's charming English manor is a starkly modern, technology-enhanced interior against which Caine, playing a successful detective novel writer, and Jude Law, as a struggling actor having an affair with the older man's wife, escalate their power struggle.
Caine, who played the younger man, Milo Tindle, to Lawrence Olivier's detective story-writing Andrew Wyke in the original movie, said he never would have done the project if it had been a simple remake.
"There's no point," the actor told a news conference at the Venice Film Festival, where "Sleuth" is vying for the top Golden Lion prize. "It's very, very different and much more severe."
Branagh said the difference lies in the sparsely written screenplay by British playwright Harold Pinter, which he described as a "testosterone-fueled gladiatorial combat."
"The confrontation of the two men, which is so particularly described in the first movie and at great length, was so concentrated in this version," he said.
It's the second time Law has taken a role originally played by Caine, following 2004's "Alfie."
"I think this one has worked. I didn't feel like I was stepping into Michael's shoes on this one because it is such an original take on a kernel of an idea."