The projector went ker-fluieee when I went to see I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead on Saturday, eight minutes into the feature. The interesting looking new Mike Hodges film, reuniting him with Clive Owen from Croupier was thus denied to me – and truth be told on those first eight minutes I am not sure if I want to go back.

The credits seemed off. The font for he ‘When I’m Dead’ portion of the title is smaller than the first part, and in the perspective style used looked off. Not only that but the idea of using headlights to illuminate the credits was let down by being cheaply animated. Cut to Clive Owen, voice-overing whilst standing on a windswept fenlike beach, uttering cryptic sentences about how much we can know someone. This I suppose is meaningful, and will almost certainly resonate later. Someone is dead, and Clive wants to know more.

Then we cut to the back of a car where Jonathon Rhys-Myers, looking like the breakable fop he always plays, is reading some pretty lousy dialogue. It sounds like dialogue, its full of the kind of non-sequiteurs we half remember actual speech to have, timed badly. The slang is off too: he is talking about his brother who has left ‘the life’ gone hermit. It is probably Clive Owen, but I did not see enough of the film to confirm this. Anyway, JRM gets to a middle class thirty something party where
a) he is the most outrageous thing at
b) well off people have random sex in the spare bedrooms (why does this never happen at parties I go to?)
c) people buy drugs off of him in amounts and for prices which seem widely variant to the current market forces (could be a period film)
d) people dance to music which is obviously different to the anonymous techno on the soundtrack.
JRD does his drug deal and nicks a blokes wallet, to show that he really is deep into this gangster lifestyle and we cut to – Malcom McDowell in the back of a limo, looking rich, looking suave, looking like he is clearly the villain of this piece. And acting scared, the projector dies.

I like Clive Owen, and the moody one liner suggested that something might interest me here. By the direction and dialogue in the car and party were wincingly poor. When Malcolm rocked up to spread a bit of old gangster villainousness, I had already resigned myself to something which was going to try to be both introspective and dully formulaic. The break of the projector initially amused me. It then annoyed me when I realised I had to kill an hour and a half before I met friends to see the next film. But I cannot help but feel a touch relieved. I see a lot of crap, and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead was shaping up to be in that category. The projector saved me, and I feel like taking the hint. Maybe you should not judge a film on the first eight minutes, but if the alternative is wasting 107 minutes to confirm it being lousy then I’ll take the hint.