Dead Sleep [1990]

Mike Hodges and Clive Owen, director and star of the stylish 1998 crime drama Croupier, team again in this moody, almost contemplative thriller about a former gangster, Will Graham (Owen), who returns to London after a lengthy self-exile. In a tragic coincidence, Will's brother, Davey (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), has just committed suicide following a rape by a wealthy car dealer (Malcolm McDowell). Convinced there is more to Davey's death than meets the eye, Will--arguing he is nothing like his old, violent, urban self--slowly evolves again into a formidable criminal. Hodges and screenwriter Trevor Preston emphasize tone and spiritual inference over precise character motivation. Not everything that can be known about Will (especially his rocky psychological state and history with a former lover, played by Charlotte Rampling) is expressly stated. But one can feel his stifled nature rising, paradoxically, toward revenge, and his final actions have an existential power and mystery. --Tom Keogh

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