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Stars: Michael Caine, Jude Law

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Harold Pinter has written a very static variation here on Anthony Shaffer's classic play (first made into a film 35 years ago) of bluff and counter-bluff. It starts smartly and doesn't last that long, but you may still tire of its two characters' company some way before the end.

Out-of-work actor Milo (Law) calls at the palatial, multi-gadget home of crime novelist Andrew Wyke (Caine) to beg him to divorce his wife - Milo's lover. Wyke suggests to Milo that, as Mrs Wyke needs to continue living in luxury, he should rob Wyke's safe and make off with priceless jewellery, which Wyke will then claim on his insurance. Turns out it's all a game to humiliate Milo. But the actor's revenge is not long in coming.

Pinter's would-be-witty dialogue often misses the mark: 'You know what justice is?' asks Caine. 'It's farting Annie Laurie through a keyhole.' What on earth does this mean? Perhaps only Pinter knows. When all else fails, he crams the script with four-letter words and the actors have a good bellow.

Caine (in the old Laurence Olivier part) gives a controlled, professional performance, but Law's (in the old Caine role) is less even. And you have to ask why Caine does what he does in a climax that poses more questions than it answers. Come to think of it, it doesn't answer any of them.

David Quinlan

UK 2007. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by deluxe.
88 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 18 Nov 2007