44 Inch Chest (2009)
By: Devon B. on July 16, 2013 | Comments
Icon | Region Free | 1.85:1, 1080p | English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 | 94 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Malcolm Venville
Starring: Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane
Screenplay: Louis Mellis, David Scinto
Country: UK
External Links
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My interest in 44 Inch Chest was sparked when I heard it had some strong connections to the extremely compelling Sexy Beast, not to be confused with the extremely uncompelling Hungry Beast. Unfortunately my hopes were raised too high, and 44 Inch Chest could not meet them.

44 Inch Chest opens amidst the aftermath of what appears to be a massive bout of domestic violence. Ray Winstone is lying in the chaos, and seems very, very depressed over some problems he's having with the trouble and strife. His friends gather 'round to try and help him deal with the gut wrenching situation he's found himself in. The members of the group range from sexist to downright misogynist, with most of the characters displaying a huge amount of male bravado. They all meet up in a rundown living room, and it is here where the bulk of the film unfolds as the viewer has to work out what's happened (which isn't that hard), who everyone is, and what is real.

44 Inch Chest is an incredibly slow burn, which isn't a good thing because the plot here is simple. The whole film feels like an adapted stage play, and at times is dull. The cast are phenomenal, though, with Winstone giving a performance that should've won him awards. Likewise John Hurt gives his all in a role that is unfortunately rather cliché, and the rest of the cast all deliver top notch performances as well. The big issue here is that given it's from the writers of Sexy Beast and features two of the same stars, comparisons are inevitable, and 44 Inch Chest is nowhere near as interesting as its predecessor. While there are some funny lines, the dialogue wasn't strong enough to justify setting an entire film around, and everything feels too stagey. From the run down location to the framing to the pacing, the whole film feels like a one act play that's gone on too long. The workings of the group are interesting to an extent, particularly since it's hard to see why any of these characters would be interacting together, but when looked at a bit closer most of the characters lack any amount of depth. Character pieces without character are always doomed, and 44 Inch Chest falls flat.

Is 44 Inch Chest worth seeing? Absolutely, if just to see this phenomenal ensemble cast in action. I'm aware that I may be judging the film a bit harshly because of the people involved, but I honestly can't see how I could've come away from this film with any opinion other than the outstanding cast are carrying a mediocre script to the best of their ability. They almost succeed in making this a good film. Almost.
The Disc
When the story is taking place in daylight, the transfer can be a thing of beauty. Unfortunately from a video quality standpoint, most of the film takes place in the aforementioned, poorly lit, living room. The film is meant to look bleak and depressing, so it wasn't ever going to be a reference disc. I noted some edge enhancement early on, but this is a solid if not awe inspiring transfer. The film is very dark, with lots of shadows but most of the time detail was not lost, for example the dark suits didn't usually disappear into the darkened backgrounds. The Blu-Ray is a strong presentation of the film.

There're two tracks to choose from: a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 mix or a Dolby True HD 5.1 mix. The Master Audio track has a higher bit rate and presents a bit more depth, but either track is fine for this movie because it's mostly just some people talking. Aside from the score, the surround sound rarely kicks in. They're both high quality tracks, but don't have a lot to showcase.

Well, if you like trailers and snippets you're in luck. If you want pertinent extras like the Region A release, you're fucked. What we get is trailers and previews (which looked like a scene from the movie in question) of Harry Brown, Edge of Darkness, Franklyn, Knowing, Push, Transporter 3, A Single Man, Nowhere Boy, Precious, The Road, Triangle, The Box, Butterfly on a Wheel and Horsemen.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
This is yet another Blu-Ray where fans of the film will be disappointed with the local release because it has left off all the extras. I'm not usually too fussed about extras, but do find it maddening when some ready made extras aren't included on the domestic edition. If you can play Region A, the US release would probably be the way to go. If you can't, and only care about the film itself, there's nothing wrong with 44 Inch Chest's transfer on the local disc.
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