44 Inch Chest (18)

HARDMAN Ray Winstone plays Colin Diamond, a seemingly respectable businessman whose life is shattered when his wife announces she s leaving him for another man, in 44 INCH CHEST (18). Suffocated by his love and devotion, Liz, played by Joanne Whalley, ha

HARDMAN Ray Winstone plays Colin Diamond, a seemingly respectable businessman whose life is shattered when his wife announces she's leaving him for another man, in 44 INCH CHEST (18).

Suffocated by his love and devotion, Liz, played by Joanne Whalley, has been driven into the arms of a hunky French waiter nicknamed Loverboy by Colin's friends - underground criminals who are eager to see their friend get his revenge.

They rally round Colin, who is in the throes of an alcohol-fuelled breakdown, and capture Loverboy, locking him in the wardrobe of a derelict house while they contemplate his fate.

The four friends, played by John Hurt, Stephen Dillane, Ian McShane and Tom Wilkinson, are horrified to find Colin reduced to a gibbering wreck and try to help him in the only way they know - by offering him booze and shouting at him to "be a man".


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But behind the hardman image and despite his criminal connections, Colin is an emotional and thoughtful man.

And when he finally faces Loverboy, played by Melvil Poupaud, Colin gives him a lecture on love and marriage rather than taking out his anger on the handsome Frenchman, who assumes he is about to be killed.

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Most of the film is confined to one grimy room in the derelict house but with the help of flashbacks and hallucinations, Colin pieces together the events of the last 48 hours, and eventually realises that there is a fine line between love and hate.

Despite the sombre storyline, 44 Inch Chest is laugh-out-loud funny and Ian McShane is hilarious as Meredith, a flamboyant gay gambler who riles his friends with stories about his nocturnal antics.

Ray Winstone is also excellent as Colin, demonstrating a rollercoaster of emotions where he's sobbing one minute and consumed with rage the next. But the film leaves you feeling confused about which character to sympathise with, particularly when it tackles the issue of domestic violence.

There's strong language from the start, so it's not for the faint-hearted or easily offended.

- ANNA NALBORCZYK

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