Directed by Mike Hodges, starring Clive Owen, Charlotte Rampling, Jamie Foreman, Ken Stott, Malcolm McDowell and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.
Mike Hodges' last film 'Croupier' was one of the finest film noirs of recent years. A sleeper hit in America, which went on to appear in many year end 'Best Of' lists, it re-launched the 'Get Carter' director's career and put star Clive Owen on the way to the big time. The news that the duo were reuniting for another film was a dream come true for the fans who ranked 'Croupier' up there with Hodges' 1971 classic. Sadly, what they'll get is one of the biggest missed opportunities in a while.
Will Graham (Owen) is a drifter, living out of a van in rural areas and picking up manual work wherever he can find it. Once a major player in the London underworld, the dishevelled Will is now a haunted man, trying to run from both society-at-large and his old identity. When Graham's younger brother Davey (Rhys- Meyers) is found dead back in London that identity, and the reputation which went with it, come back to the fore once again. While the coroner's report confirms that Davey committed suicide, Will isn't satisfied and commissions an independent autopsy. What he is told threatens to pull him back into the abyss.
While the performances are excellent and the 'Get Carter'-in-reverse plot is intriguing, 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead' is a film where atmospherics triumph over the script. Too hung up on mood and not enough on building emotional connections, Hodges and scriptwriter Trevor Preston don't do justice to the characters at their disposal - both Jamie Foreman as Davey's minder and Charlotte Rampling as Will's former lover deserved more of the storyline. Despite the film's pared-down feeling, Owen is hypnotic in the lead role, but he too is hampered by unanswered questions which only serve to frustrate and continue through to an ending that's too rushed to make amends.
This film will find some fans, but they'll be far outnumbered by the disappointed.