> Volume 6 > Number 23


Mike Hodges

Clive Owen
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
Charlotte Rampling
Malcolm McDowell
Noel Clarke

Release: 16 Jun. 04

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead


The bittersweet story of an estranged renegade, his playboy brother, and a breached rectum, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is Mike Hodges’ impossibly absurd attempt to reignite his career after disappearing following the success of Croupier in 2000. Bringing back that film’s star, Clive Owen (now copyrighted to Hollywood, hopefully on his way to playing James Bond), Hodges reduces the Owen’s edge to a whimpering bitterness, neither impressive nor empathetic.

Returning to his home after a long disappearing act to get away from a Briton hood background, Owen’s Will is determined to find out the situation that led to the death of his brother Davey (Rhys-Meyers). There’s no real mystery involved: taking cues from Gaspar Noe, Hodges includes an uncomfortable scene in which Malcolm McDowell ass-rapes the kid. It’s not that the sequence borders on exploitation as in Irréversible – indeed, it is exploitive. Furthermore, the domino effect that leads Davey from this rape to suicide never fully makes sense. Barely shown in the film’s first few moments, Davey’s personality isn’t so narcissistic that his debilitation at the hands of a old gangster on Viagra should lead to slitting his wrists. Sure, it’s likely a painful, wrenching experience to ponder the invasion he’s encountered, but the reaction feels overdone as if Hodges had been grasping at any contrivance to get his male muse out of the his lumberyards and back into the mean streets of London.

Engulfed with a portentous tone of doom and gloom, the work overwhelms what little plot it has by overstating its case. Hodges, once the impresario of the ‘60s and ‘70s wave of cool crime dramas, was last cleft by Hollywood for a painful Get Carter remake starring Sylvester Stallone. With I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Hodges has succeeded in shutting Hollywood out of his affairs: as soulless as their über-productions, there isn’t an individual who’d want to see this even if it starred Vin Diesel

©2004, David Perry,, 4 June 2004