[box cover]

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

Though a failure in England, Mike Hodges' Croupier (1998) developed a following in America and became an art-house success, launching Clive Owen as an actor to keep an eye on. And when Hodges and Owen re-teamed in 2003 for I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, it's not surprising that it bombed in the U.K., but sadly it also couldn't find an audience in America. Perhaps it didn't connect because people were hoping for Croupier redux, when in fact, Dead has more in common with Hodges most famous film Get Carter — but an older, more elegiac vision of it. Owen stars as Will Graham, a man who used to be one of London's bigger gangsters, yet he fled the life three years ago for some peace and quiet. Like any cinematic criminal who's left "the life," something must force his hand to come back; in this case it's that his brother Davey (Johnathan Rhys-Meyers) is found dead after a long night of dealing drugs to rich idiots. It's a suicide, but after a second autopsy it's found that he was raped, which provoked his death wish. Returning to his home turf, Will wants to find answers, but to do so must interact with the people he left behind, and Will — as strong and tough as he is — is a man out of his time. He must return to ex-amour Helen (Charlotte Rampling), and he must find Goad (Malcolm McDowell) and learn his reason for raping Davey. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead has a great noir title, but it's the sort of film that will be described either as methodical or slow, depending on the viewer's ability to appreciate the story's groove. It's a slowly paced film, with a main character who rants that his life for the last three years left him without human contact for days on end, and as the film is told from his perspective, things take their time. If the viewer goes with it, Dead's a compelling journey, but it lacks the edge and spark that makes both Carter and Croupier classics. It's an older man's picture, one who is in the midst of contemplating death. That noted, Clive Owen is such a fascinating screen-presence that one imagines he would be compelling if filmed researching cephalopods online, while Hodges has an eye and sense of tone that keeps things engaging. Paramount presents I'll Sleep When I'm Dead in a good anamorphic transfer (1.78:1) and both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Bonus trailers, keep-case.

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