Sleuth ★★★½

"We are from different worlds, you and me, Andrew. In mine, there was no time for bright fancies and happy inventions, no stopping for tea. The only game we played was to survive, or go to the wall. If you didn't win, you just didn't finish. Loser, lose all. You probably don't understand that." ♟

Take a pair of knighted celluloid icons whose accents embody the term ‘class conflict’, hand them a scintillating script adapted by a playwright who penned the Broadway stage play of the same name, place both men under the expert eye of a directing virtuoso shooting his 22nd and final film, and what do you have after 138 minutes? A wickedly fun and devilish two-hander that’s as sharp and stylish as it is overlong and tiring, resting on the shoulders of two very capable Oscar-nominated leads embroiled in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. Sparing no corner of the lavish manor set as they swallow entire sequences whole, Sir Laurence Olivier and his young (!) dance partner delight in outwitting each other with acting acrobatics and highly intellectual jabs that are sure to leave a lasting impression on viewers, even if their mileage may vary as the picture runs short on steam heading into its third act. One would be remiss to forget the debuting efforts of Alec Cawthorne and John Matthews, their names appearing in the opening credits as another sly wink to the audience from American director and screen legend Joseph L. Mankiewicz. A daring thriller often imitated yet rarely duplicated, proved to be too difficult a task when a failed rehash was released to middling reviews and returns decades later, not to mention Deathtrap also featuring Sir Michael Caine.

7/10 detective doppelgängers.