Mr In-Between
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
mr in-between Just when the flow of bleak and violent British crime thrillers seems to have finally slowed down, this film gets a new lease on life. (Like Philip Noyce's The Quiet American, it was one of the unfortunate titles that debuted at the Toronto Film Festival on 10 September 2001.) The story centres on Jon (Howard), a meek and meticulous hitman for a heavily tattooed gangster (Calder) who treats him like a beloved son. As Jon quietly goes about his brutal business, he runs into his old friend Andy (Tiernan) and finds out that he's now married to the girl (O'Rawe) they both had a crush on in school. It's like Jon has encountered his own life as it should've been--a happy little family instead of all this horrific bloodletting. For the first time in his career he's caught between his life as it is and the life he wanted.

The ideas here are profoundly interesting and cleverly investigated by both the script and cinematographer-turned-director Sarossy. The film looks fantastic, all dripping greys and glaring whites. And the vaguely familiar actors all deliver solid performances, especially Howard, whose blond, blue-eyed, teddy bear physicality sits intriguingly at odds with his sadistic professionalism. But this genre has been done to death; we've seen it all before, from the grisly torture scenes and cartoonish mob bosses to the innocents in danger and the hopeless romantic yearning. And stylish or not, it looks extremely seedy and dreary, echoing the grim plot, which begins to feel corny as it spirals out of control as revenge and death take over from the more thoughtful, provocative story elements (which do take over again at the end). It's all just a bit too gothic and dark, flattening any emotions completely so we really don't care if Jon manages to atone for his sins or not. Well-made, but why would anyone want to see it?

cert 15 themes, language, strong violence, drugs 2.Jun.03

dir Paul Sarossy
scr Peter Waddington
with Andrew Howard, David Calder, Geraldine O'Rawe, Andrew Tiernan, Mark Benton, Clint Dyer, Saeed Jaffrey, Clive Russell, Peter Waddington
release UK 3.Oct.03
01/UK 1h37

Quandry. Jon (Howard) makes a difficult decision about the woman he loves (O'Rawe)...

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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... mr in-between "The film's overall strength is its success at making existential and post-existential philosophy manageable for the normal guy, like me. It was distilled to bite-sized bits. But despite that, this is a good movie. No more than that. The subject matter contained the usual element of violence and disturbing action. But not enough, and not nearly graphic enough. I wanted to see when Jon tortured people. I wanted to know what bad things he did, and what bad things happened to those around him. I wanted to be given more than just an anguished scream, no matter how well done it was. I was tantalised and disappointed. While the moral, or theme, of the story was pretty well addressed and explored, a little severed flesh and crushed bone couldn't have hurt. The acting, for the most part, was well done, and displayed all that was needed for the roles. The tattooed man, especially, was well played. Particularly in the closing scene. The driver/messenger/henchman as well." --Dan, Honolulu 9.Jun.03
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall