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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
Paramount // R // November 16, 2004
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted December 30, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

A second return for director Mike Hodges (famed for the 1971 crime flick "Get Carter") after the popular "Croupier", "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" opens with Davey (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), a small-time drug dealer, working his way through parties, making contacts and the occasional sale. As Davey walks home one night, he's brutally assaulted by another gang, then later commits suicide.

Davey also happens to be the younger brother of Will (Clive Owen, of this past Summer's "King Arthur" and this Winter's "Closer"), one of the meanest enforcers from London. Will retired years ago and has spent his time in the wilderness, but once he finds out what happened to his brother, he returns to the city to get revenge - his target being Boad (Malcolm McDowell). The audience isn't really told who these characters are, and we attempt to figure it out on our own as more details are revealed over the course of the film. The fact that all the details aren't spelled out makes the film feel even more gritty and realistic, as well.

When Will returns to London, he finds that he hasn't been forgotten - a lot of people remember him and fear him. Some worry that Will has come back to reclaim his territory, as he departed years ago when he became tired of being a crime boss, leaving his loving girlfriend, Helen (Charlotte Rampling) behind.

Despite being a British crime drama, those expecting something along the lines of Guy Ritchie ("Snatch") will definitely be disappointed. "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" is a slow, gritty and bleak flick that gains what tension it has from solid performances and it's ominous, foreboding tone. Owen provides a superb lead effort, bringing a quiet intensity and menace to the role that's certainly compelling. Fine support is also provided by Rampling and others. The film's look is also worth noting, as it transforms London into a series of shadowy back alleys, soft glowing lights and isolated figures.

This dark, slow-moving thriller/drama won't be for everyone, but the performances are strong, director Hodges handles the different story threads well and also, creates a haunting, memorable look for the world these characters find themselves in.


The DVD

VIDEO: "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" is presented by Paramount in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is a little inconsistent, but is largely enjoyable. Sharpness and detail are generally very good, although slightly inconsistent: the picture can appear a tad soft during some low-light sequences.

Other than that, everything seemed to be in order: only a ilttle bit of edge enhancement was noticed, but no pixelation was spotted. The print seemed to be in perfectly fine condition, with no specks, marks or other faults. The film's color palette was certainly subdued, but brighter colors occasionally showed through well.

SOUND: "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is largely a fairly conservative soundtrack, but it does offer some mild touches of activity that compliment the scene nicely. Minor-to-mild ambience is heard in the surrounds on occasion. Dialogue seemed a little hard-to-hear at times when played at a reasonable volume, but audio quality was otherwise pleasant.

EXTRAS: Promos for other Paramount releases.

Final Thoughts: "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" is grim and a tad slow, but it's well-directed and the lead performance from Owen is compelling. It's not for everyone, but fans of the director or actors may want to check it out as a rental. Paramount's DVD edition offers nearly nothing in terms of supplements, but audio/video quality is fine.

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