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I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

A movie directed by Mike Hodges

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Sleep or die, but don't bother with this one

  • Feb 26, 2007
Pros: It promises good acting with a great cast

Cons: It fails on all fronts to deliver anything but boredom.

The Bottom Line: This is a big steaming cup of don't bother.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plo

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead has two words in it that describe this film and they should be pretty obvious.

Will Graham (Clive Owen) has fallen off the planet as far as his old friends are concerned. Three years earlier, he left a life of borderline organized crime and lit out for the territories (as Mr. Finn would say). Back in London, his brother Davey (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a petty criminal and hale-fellow-well-met who runs afoul of another, much more invested criminal played by Malcolm McDowell who decides to show his power over the younger lad by raping him. This leads to Davey committing suicide. Quite by accident, Will decides to come back to London—at this point he finds out about his brother and the boring story becomes a revenge story.

This movie is a gray disappointment. Much of the music in it is experimental jazz, and like that (a form of music I neither like nor understand), the movie meanders without much really driving it beyond a sad little revenge story that could be handled in 48 minutes with commercials on both ends. The cast, Mr. Owen, Mr. Rhys Meyers and, one of my favorites, Charlotte Rampling, I would expect there to be something to hold on to. They try their best, but a bad script and a poor story cannot be rescued by any number of brilliant actors.

Along with being meandering and almost meaningless, it is predictable to a fault. This seems like a contradiction, but given the general notion that it is just a simple revenge tale told with little fury and not that much sound, the contradiction exists in logic only.

I wanted to like this film. The cast contains three actors whose work I have admired for a long time. Every actor makes at least one turkey in her or his career, in this case, three of them did it at the same time. It’s a bit like I Love You to Death--that movie was supposed to be a comedy but turned out to be more of a tragic mistake. In both movies, A-List actors did their best to rescue, forgive the mixed metaphor, a dying patient, but no matter what it is they tried, it just never worked.

Sleep and death come to mind most looking back on the film since it has nothing compelling about the second and makes you fight the first to find this out.


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More I'll Sleep When I'm Dead reviews
review by . April 10, 2005
The title of the review just about says it all. This movie gets off to a bit of a slow start. For the first forty minutes you're watching what seems to be a series of unrelated, unfortunate events. Then, everything falls into place and the pleasantly balanced ensemble cast allows you to fall into London's underbelly for an hour of mystery and intrigue surrounding the suicide of Davey (Rhys-Meyers). His older brother, Will (Clive Owen), once a prominent figure in London's crime community has been …
review by . November 18, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Mike Hodges respects his audience: rarely does he forget that viewers have the intelligence to piece together the puzzles he creates. Though his films have memorable characters, those characters are enhanced more by what is not said about them than superfluous dialogue and proscenium staging. And while this approach to film making does require participation, the end result is well worth the journey.    Early on in the film we encounter Will Graham (Clive Owen), a disheveled loner …
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Paul Savage ()
Ranked #57
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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About this movie


Mike Hodges and Clive Owen, director and star of the stylish 1998 crime dramaCroupier, team again in this moody, almost contemplative thriller about a former gangster, Will Graham (Owen), who returns to London after a lengthy self-exile. In a tragic coincidence, Will's brother, Davey (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), has just committed suicide following a rape by a wealthy car dealer (Malcolm McDowell). Convinced there is more to Davey's death than meets the eye, Will--arguing he is nothing like his old, violent, urban self--slowly evolves again into a formidable criminal. Hodges and screenwriter Trevor Preston emphasize tone and spiritual inference over precise character motivation. Not everything that can be known about Will (especially his rocky psychological state and history with a former lover, played by Charlotte Rampling) is expressly stated. But one can feel his stifled nature rising, paradoxically, toward revenge, and his final actions have an existential power and mystery.--Tom Keogh
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Director: Mike Hodges
Genre: Drama
Release Date: June 18, 2004
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: November 16, 2004
Runtime: 1hr 24min
Studio: Paramount
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