We don’t really know who Colin Diamond is. However, he’s played by Ray Winstone and it doesn’t take a genius to work out he’s a bit of a wrong ‘un. The same applies to the rest of the cast. Ian McShane as silky smooth psycho Meredith, basically reprises his role from Sexy Beast. Old Man Peanut is an unapologetically vile creation brought to blood-curdling life by John Hurt. Stephen Dillane and Tom Wilkinson – always great baddies - make up the rest of this un-holiest of pentangles. These are men whose scruples and loyalties are a mess of contradictions. Here they seek retribution for a friend who’s been wronged. Colin’s wife, Liz (Joanne Whalley) has found someone else, in the shape of a dishy French waiter. The boys not only want their pound of flesh, they’re all quite looking forward to it.
Long time commercials veteran, Malcolm Venville directs with unflashy precision and elicits killer performances from the experienced cast. The film is penned by Louis Mellis and David Scinto, they of Sexy Beast fame. The script is something of a rare steak – it’s rich in flavour, juicy, tender, and a bit bloody. The dialogue doesn’t disappoint. It’s scary, funny and, at times, really beautiful. It is a simple tale told on a small scale (and at a refreshingly slender 95 minutes). I accept it is not the most thrilling of stories. The action - mostly set in one location - is limited, to the point where one could easily see it transposed to the stage. But it’s unfair to criticise for these reasons alone. Twelve Angry Man was set entirely in one room as was Rope and these have always been highly regarded. Nevertheless, if the action is contained thus you really need to pull all the stops out and unfortunately it lacks that necessary chutzpah. Saying that, 44 Inch Chest is a thoughtful film and poses some interesting moral questions: such as one’s ability to choose, after having already decided on a certain path.