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Reviewer's grade: A


What a pleasure it is, for a change, to see a good movie that equals exactly the sum of its parts. The acting is brilliant (Michael Caine and Jude Law), the script is sharper than a serpent's tooth (Harold Pinter), and the direction is precise and generous (Kenneth Branagh).


It's an actors' movie and Branagh allows his performers to take the lead. Law is Tindle, a small-timer with big ambitions, who is shagging the wife of successful thriller writer Andrew Wyke (Caine). When the two men get together at Wyke's mansion to discuss the wife's future "? note that she is not included "? the meeting turns from catty insults to a dangerous game of not cat and mouse, but cat and bigger cat. "Sleuth" is a masterpiece of minimalist cinema.


Branagh knows where the emphasis should be and puts it there, even when it isn't on him. Pinter's additions to the original play by Anthony Shaffer add a layer of stinging perversity. R


"?Doug Bentin 



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