dir Michael Radford
scr Edward Anderson
with Demi Moore, Michael Caine, Lambert Wilson, Joss Ackland, Nathaniel Parker, Stanley Townsend, Derren Nesbitt, Jonathan Aris, Shaughan Seymour, Nicholas Jones, David Barras, Natalie Dormer
release US 28.Mar.08, UK 28.Nov.08
07/UK Hyde Park 1h48
OK, here's the plan: Caine and Moore

wilson ackland parker
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Flawless Terrific performances elevate this extremely low-key heist thriller into something thoroughly intriguing. It may never crank up much excitement, but the 1960s vibe it generates is very cool.

Laura Quinn (Moore) has gone much further than most businesswomen in 1960s London, although she can't seem to get the next promotion in her job for the leading diamond firm in the city. Just as she's weighing up her options, she has a chat with the office cleaner (Caine), who admits that he's planning to steal a handful of diamonds from the vault. And he could use her help. Without knowing any details, she says yes. And the morning after the heist, the entire company, including Laura, gets a big surprise.

Moore and Caine are excellent in their roles, underplaying the drama and bringing out the internal issue--ambitions, emotions, even a subtle sense of vengeance. They're such polar extremes that it's easy to understand how no one would suspect them of teaming up: a shambling, mumbling 70ish Cockney and a sleekly fashionable 40ish go-getter. And Moore's scenes with Wilson's insurance investigator crackle with barely subdued flirtation.

Director Radford plays out this story as a subtle drama with mysterious overtones, leaving the adventure elements largely off-screen. It's an interesting choice in today's film market, in which flashy, empty-headed action seems to pass off as substance. In other words, this film feels old-fashioned in more ways than one, taking its time to create its characters while evoking the period in a realistic but unfussy way. There's also a striking examination of the attitudes of the period, notably in Laura's position as the only female manager in a large company, which of course arouses suspicion and leads to her betrayal.

As it progresses, Radford holds on to the various elements lightly, giving the film a sleek look with a scruffy undertone, and letting the cast members layer all kinds of sparks into understated performances. The film is a wonderfully suppressed bundle of 1960s glamour and forbidden innuendo. It may feel somewhat unlikely, and also a bit corny as it unravels into a revenge plot, but it's a great fun to sit back and enjoy a smart, subtle, character-based heist for a change.

cert 12 themes, language 1.Oct.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall