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44 Inch Chest


Stars: Ray Winstone, Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Stephen Dillane, Joanne Whalley, Steven Berkoff, Dave Legeno, Melvil Poupaud

Director: Malcolm Venvill

Anyone expecting from the title a film about a busty glamazon can forget it. The most distinctive thing about this set-bound (though amazingly not based on a play) talkathon is that it crams around 180 four-letter words into its 94 minute runtime - surely an oaths-per-minute record.

Winstone takes centre stage (oops) as a man who, having beaten his wife (a comeback of sorts for Whalley) within an inch of her life when she told him she was leaving him for another man, calls on his shady friends (McShane, Wilkinson, Hurt, Dillane) to kidnap's the wife's lover (Poupaud) and conspire to decide his fate.

Chief curser here is Hurt (face twisted into an embittered scowl and clearly auditioning for the old man in a scatological remake of Steptoe and Son), who must have have soaked his fellow cast-members with spit and venom.

Set in one room (with occasional flashbacks and fantasy scenes), the film needs all the life it can get. 'Nothing's happened,' groans Hurt at one point. 'Why has nothing happened?' He has a point: this is dreary to the point of catatonia as it finally grinds to a halt. Winstone, Hurt and McShane are all good in their own ways; which is just as well.

David Quinlan

UK 2009. UK Distributor: Momentum. Colour by deluxe.
94 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 10 Jan 2010