I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (15)

Directed by Mike Hodges, Written by Trevor Preston
Showing at FACT from 22nd - 24th June 2004

Reviewed by Adam Ford

When his brother dies in mysterious circumstances, a notorious London gangster begins his own investigation, desperate for revenge. Sound familiar? It should do, as it’s the same basic plot as Get Carter (1971), which was also directed by Mike Hodges. It seems little has changed in the intervening years.

On paper, it seems atmospheric enough with its soft jazz soundtrack to the mysterious sights of a night in the big city. But there are only so many times you can see fancy cars cutting their way through the pitch blackness before succumbing to boredom. The script is uninspired and prone to cliché, whilst it is distressing to see a high calibre cast (Clive Owen, Ken Stott, Malcolm McDowell and Charlotte Rampling amongst others) struggle in vain to summon any emotion from their poorly-developed characters.

It’s very tempting to say you’ll sleep when you see this movie, but it’s not quite that bad. Sylvia Sims gives an amusing performance as an elderly mother figure hopelessly out of her depth amidst the murk of the world in which her ‘boys’ operate – but her contribution is all too brief. When the final credits began to roll I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to care. Standing around looking moody does not a thriller make.