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cast: Demi Moore, Michael Caine, Lambert Wilson, and Joss Ackland

director: Michael Radford

108 minutes (15) 2008
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Metrodome DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by J.C. Hartley
The arc of Michael Caine's career, from, 'What's it all about?' through, 'And I never dreamed, that it would turn out to be the bees. They've always been our friend', up to, 'Some men just want to watch the world burn', has shown that persistence pays. Never one to stop working, even when offered tripe, Caine now can earn a fortune from The Dark Knight films, and still grace smaller projects with his professional presence, confident he is an early port of call for casting directors looking for a certain enigmatic something, a quality of steadiness with a hint of something sinister if required. Is Alfred Pennyworth so very different from Cutter in The Prestige (2006)? He delivers his lines with a quiet insistence, like he always has; his name generates supporting roles and even starring vehicles, he has outlived and outworked many of his generation of actors, I often wonder how the late David Hemmings must have felt as he played alongside Caine in Last Orders (2001), or Caine's near-contemporary Derren Nesbitt who appears with him in Flawless.

Demi Moore plays Laura Quinn, a negotiator for the London Diamond Corporation in 1960, consistently overlooked for promotion to the board of directors. Single, a workaholic, Laura is exploited by her bosses, who not only intend to release her but have poisoned her name with their rivals to prevent her talents being used against them. Laura is approached by Hobbs the janitor (Caine), who reveals that he has a plan to steal �1 million worth of stones from the locked vault, a thermos flask full that would not be missed. Despite misgivings, Laura helps him, only for Hobbs to succeed in clearing the entire contents of the vault.

Through intermediaries Hobbs issues a ransom for �100 million which brings the Diamond Corporation into conflict with its insurers King's Row, headed by the corrupt Sir Clifton Sinclair (Nesbitt) who would be personally liable for any loss. Sinclair installs an investigator Finch (Lambert Wilson, The Matrix Reloaded), who seems to suspect Laura's involvement in the heist.

This film works on many levels. A present day sequence book-ends the film with the older Laura interviewed by a young female journalist who, rather patronisingly, has identified Laura as the only female manager in the London Diamond Corporation of the 1960s. The sequence seems to be highlighting a feminist angle which comes through anyway with Laura's experience of the glass ceiling, as prevalent today as in the 1960s. In fact the present-day foundation for Laura's reminiscence is more to do with being all you can be, whoever or whatever you are, and the fact that there is a whole world out there.

At times this film seems very good indeed, with a female lead who isn't too obviously pretty or young, Moore's character has an austere beauty; a male lead too old to be a romantic interest, although there is a certain creepy frisson in some scenes. The romance is between Laura and Finch, and is only just hinted at, and all the more authentic for that. There are elements of tension from the heist and the subsequent investigation, and if it all seems implausible and at times a little trite, it is nevertheless a good story, well-performed, and depending upon characterisation and intelligence, qualities often absent from contemporary filmmaking.

The DVD extras are rubbish, basically, a couple of written screens about diamonds and diamond heists.

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