Dirty Tricks stars Martin Clunes as Edward, an underachieving English teacher. Edward meets an accountant (Neil Dudgeon) and begins an affair with his wife, Karen (Julie Graham). When Karen unfortunately passes away, the aging detective (James Bolam) assigned to the case, suspects Edward is involved. Edward is a charming protagonist at first and suddenly the lies and absurdities begin piling up. On the outside, the film resembles a typical comedy and as the film unfolds it becomes a mystery. Is Edward who he continues to say he is? Or, is Edward making appeals of innocence to both the audience and the characters within the film? As a viewer, you will struggle with this question throughout. British television enthusiasts will not be disappointed with this effort.
Martin Clunes plays the role of Edward to perfection. The subtleties of his performance are remarkable. His lying springs the famous George Costanza line to mind “it’s not a lie, if you believe it”. There is an organic quality to his performance which is the most appealing. Clunes is perfectly cast and the film would not be a third as entertaining without him. The other performances are not as dazzling as Clunes. However, within the narrative of the film, they are a nice compliment to a great performance.
The film looks and feels distinctly British. The humor, setting and plot seem altogether familiar. There is nothing wrong with this, however, it needs to be executed well. As long as the film flows well and the characters are fleshed out appropriately, audiences should be involved enough for the film to be a success. This film blends humor with drama eloquently. I really enjoyed the film and would recommend this to anyone interested in being pleasantly surprised.
Dirty Tricks is presented in 1.66:1 widescreen. This is a standard European theatrical release format. The transfer looks altogether familiar for a British film. There is an apparent haze over the film at all times. The colors are not as profound as they should be. The transfer is not phenomenal by any stretch. However, within the context of the film’s release, it should be given some leeway.
The English stereo mix is surprisingly strong. The dialogue is clear at all times. The narration is particularly well mixed. This is as strong as a stereo mix will get.
Michael Dibdin: Biography
Martin Clunes’ performance alone should be reason enough to watch the film. I found myself curiously identifying with Clunes’ neuroses. Which is both funny and depressing at the same time. If you are a British television and film aficionado, this will be a familiar terrain. However, for those interested in being surprised by a film, go out and purchase it (from amazon.com).