SLEUTH (Kenneth Branagh). 86 minutes. Opens Friday (October 26). Rating: NN
When Alliance press-screened Sleuth during TIFF, a handout asked us not to reveal the big plot twist. Hee-hee. The original movie, with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine , is 35 years old and has been readily available for most of that time on video, not to mention that Anthony Shaffer 's play is frequently revived.
The new version, with a script by Harold Pinter and Caine in the Olivier role of the aging mystery writer confronting his much younger romantic rival ( Jude Law in the role Caine played in 72), follows the original pretty closely.
It's best to see Sleuth as part of the oeuvre of Shaffer or, rather, part of the obsessive double act of the Shaffer twins, Peter (Equus, Amadeus, Royal Hunt Of The Sun) and Anthony (Frenzy), who always worked alone but were both obsessed with doubles, mirror images and doppelgngers.
Sleuth is less a real drama than a big plot mechanism that has a pair of showy roles and is set in an art-directed country house unlike any space ever occupied by humans. Everything that makes it a sensation on the stage tends to work against it onscreen.