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The writers behind Sexy Beast, David Scinto and Louis Mellis, pick up where they left off in 44 Inch Chest. Ray Winstone stars as Colin Diamond, a gangster with some fiercely protective friends. There's mercurial Mal (Stephen Dillane, The Hours), mama's boy Archie (Tom Wilkinson, The Ghost Writer), velvet-voiced Meredith (Ian McShane, Winstone's Beast-ly costar), and a misanthropic, marble-mouthed piece of work named Old Man Peanut (John Hurt at his greasiest). When Liz (Joanne Whalley, Scandal), Colin's wife of 21 years, reveals that she's leaving him for French waiter Loverboy (Melvil Poupaud, effective in a thankless role), Colin's pals decide to teach the lad a lesson. After they kidnap Loverboy, lock him in a wardrobe, and encourage Diamond to do his worst, photographer-turned-filmmaker Malcolm Venville flashes back to the previous evening's events (at least those concerning Colin, Liz, and Meredith). Mood lighting and rain-slicked streets aside, the film feels stage-bound due to the minimal establishing shots and David Mamet-like dialogue, including a self-deluding disquisition on marriage (to Colin, it means letting Liz "watch what she wants on the telly"). While Winstone's broken, yet brutal turn recalls his performance in Gary Oldman's Nil by Mouth, 44 Inch Chest starts out like a Guy Ritchie-style lark before heading off in a deeper direction. Those who look to British cinema for refinement and sophistication may wish to look elsewhere, but those who prefer the grit of Mike Hodges to the grace of Merchant Ivory would do wise to give this one a go. --Kathleen C. Fennessy