Revengers Tragedy
1 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
he who seeks revengs should dig two graves Alex Cox is a unhinged filmmaker who a least makes movies unlike anyone else. This is based on the 17th century play by Thomas Middleton, combining Jacobean dialog with modern settings. It tells the tale of Vindici (Eccleston), a young man out for vengeance 10 years after his wife is poisoned by the Duke (Jacobi) because she wouldn't sleep with him. Now he enlists the help of his sister (Henry) and brother (Schofield) to ruin the lives of the Duke, the Duchess (Quick) and their astonishingly monstrous sons, starting with the heir apparent (Izzard) and working his way down.

This is a tale of blood lust, and Cox soaks the entire film in violence and depravity. There isn't a subtle moment anywhere; everything is heightened and luridly over-the-top, borrowing heavily both from Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet and Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. And this mannered, wacky approach extends to the performances as well--biting, spitting acting that's impossible to buy into. Jacobi and Henry just about keep their dignity, but everyone else gives into the frenzied style and leaves the film far too annoying and tedious to grab us in any meaningful way. You actually worry that Eccleston might burst a vein in his neck as he barks out his dialog;and this is a problem, because as he's the central character, so we should feel just a bit of sympathy for him, even if he's a brutal antihero. Meanwhile, the Duke's sons are buffoons with zany hair, makeup, tattoos, piercings and costumes that render them cartoonish and not remotely believable. Basically, there's a very strong story under here that's overwhelmed by Cox's affected, deeply chaotic filmmaking style. It actually looks like it was painful to make. But it's probably even more agonising to watch.

cert 15 themes, violence, gore language 30.Jan.03

dir Alex Cox
scr Frank Cottrell Boyce
with Christopher Eccleston, Derek Jacobi, Eddie Izzard, Carla Henry, Diana Quick, Andrew Schofield, Anthony Booth, Fraser Ayres, Marc Warren, Justin Salinger, Margi Clarke, Sophie Dahl
release UK 14.Feb.03
02/UK 1h49

A tangled web. Vindici insinuates himself into the confidence of the Duke's heir Lussurioso (Izzard and Eccleston, above), while the Duke and Duchess watch their family implode (Quick and Jacobi, below).

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... he who seeks revengs should dig two graves "I met Cox in a Liverpool bar just before filming began. He challenged me to think of a film that I enjoyed and had a meaning and greater subtext then merely the 'shadows on the wall'. I admit I couldn't think of one that Cox agreed with, so instantly I became aquainted with the Hollywood anarchist that is Alex Cox. This film annoyed me senseless. Like a Woody Allen which you can only enjoy to the full if you've been well-read and know intimately the cinema of Bergman (I love Allen films by the way), Cox is a filmmakers' filmaker. It's fine to be angry with the film industry as it is, but not if it means you loose yourself to it and with it your abilty to tell a story. This film had me laughing in parts, as were others in the quarter-full cinema; in other parts I was unhappy with the standard of acting. No doubt the quality of acting can be put down the genre and style of filmmaking that didn't wash with me. Cox's views on the British film industry I agree with, but his own standards seem to be slipping." --Andy Davies, Liverpool 1.Mar.03
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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