13 June 2005

Revengers Tragedy (2002)

Dir. Alex Cox Screenplay Frank Cottrell Boyce, based on Thomas Middleton
Christopher Eccleston, Eddie Izzard, Derek Jacobi, Diana Quick, Andrew Schofield, Anthony Booth, Joe Cottrell Boyce

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Always an interesting bod, Alex Cox, and chuck Christopher Ecclestone and Eddie Izzard into the mix, and it seemed a good bet for a sunday night movie. Perhaps I should have got a clue from the title, or even the fact that it was not so much based on, as actually a Jacobean tragedy, but it wasn't quite as light and ribald as I'd expected.

The tone is set from the opening quotation, a chinese proverb that says something like 'those seeking revenge must quicklylearn it is necessary to dig two graves'. It is what it says it is, a tragic tale of revenge - Vindici (Christopher Ecclestone with very bad hair at points) see's his wife (and most pasrty guests) killed by the The Duke (Derek Jacobi), because she wouldn't sleep with him. Pretty quickly it becomes only wise, and indeed necessary, to kill the Duke's son (Lussurioso - Izzard) too - another nasty piece of work, with design's upon Vindici's sister Castiza (Carla Henry).

Vindici endears himself to Lussurioso by kicking the crap out of his brother, and helping getting him arrested for attempted rape. From this advantageous inside position he connives to set the family even more against each other, and it doesn't take much at all. Pretty soon various brothers have been in and out of jail and/or embroiled in scandal, and Vindici's plans seem to go well - and with fairly healthy dose of very blck humour and ribaldry thrown in, to lighten the ongoing rape and necrophilia.

A couple of the cast couldn't quite handle the language, and we kept getting distracted as virtually every scouse actor from the last twenty years gets a role (Billy Corkhill, Sinbad etc). The combination of those accents and that language tho is superb, and keep the film firmly down to earth. It might have been a mistake watching it straight after a video of Dr Who as well, much of Ecclestone's mugging looked very familiar. But overwhelmingly the perfomances were spot on, zesty and full of fun, and it was the best role I've seen Izzard in. Visually the film looks magnificent (bar a crap special effect at the end), conveyng both the sense of the 1600's and of a post-apocalyptic modern city. The camera dives around and cuts wildly, with asides to the audience, and bizarre anachronims thrown in, in the way Cox sometimes, like now, is the master of.

There's a soundtrack by Chumbawamba, but even that's pretty decent - they don't sing until the closing credits!


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