Colman Domingo
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Cat and
Mouse

Cat and
            Mouse

Jude Law walks in
the room rather meekly and slinks over to a water
pitcher and pours himself a drink. He just was chased by
paparazzi into the Park Hyatt hotel, where he's
stopping during the Toronto International Film
Festival, and he's not looking his best. Slightly
built, with his thin hair a mess, he is dressed in jeans and
striped shirt and wearing scuffed tennis shoes. It's
poetic justice, because the last time I was in a room
with Law alone -- while on the phone with Julia
Roberts -- he teased me by pointing out that I was wearing
two different style loafers, setting his Closer
costar to cackling hysterically. At the time, he said
he was playing the role of a poorly dressed reporter
(for All the King's Men) and he'd have to use
that. Today I was dressed a bit better than Law, but
then again, he's being chased by photographers and was just
arrested in London on charges that he grabbed one.

Law is relaxed in
Toronto, he says, because the people here like to talk
movies. This time he's not only starring in his latest film,
Sleuth, but he is responsible for putting the
package together as the producer, convincing Harold Pinter
to rewrite the script, Kenneth Branagh to direct, and
Michael Caine to star opposite him. The film is about
a wealthy novelist (Caine) whose wife ran off with a
young man (Law). Caine then engages Law in a revenge game of
cat and mouse with decidedly homoerotic undertones.
Caine starred in the original version of the film,
playing the younger role opposite Laurence Olivier,
and was nominated for Best Actor at the time. But they all
insist that this is not a remake of the 1972 classic.

"I don't think he
would have agreed to be a part of this if he felt we
were going anywhere near the earlier version; he's done
that," Law says of his costar. The two actors seem
inextricably linked, as Law played the role that Caine
made famous in Alfie in a recent unsuccessful
remake. Interestingly, there was a homoerotic moment
in a men's room in Alfie, and the same thing happens
in Sleuth. But Law says he plays with the same
ambiguity in all his roles, from Oscar Wilde's bisexual
lover in Wilde to the gay hooker in Midnight in
the Garden of Good and Evil
to the libidinous
robot in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and the
murderous Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley.

"I think what
interested me as a producer was just this notion of two
men fighting, why men fight, why we return to the sort of
animal, primal urge and almost forget about the thing
we're fighting over," Law says. "And when Harold
[Pinter] agreed to do it with me, for me, he made that
clear that it wasn't going to be an adaptation. He said it
was going to go somewhere new. When I started I really
felt like it was a new character, I was creating a new
character."

Both characters
in Sleuth are battling over a woman who's never
seen, and there's palpable sexual tension between the
men as they argue, which Law playfully acknowledges. "I
don't know, in a funny way Harold never gave us any
answers," Law says. "I rather enjoy saying I don't
know. It's all up to you. I think there are just
certain words he uses which suggest sexual
connotations."

Caine, of course,
has played plenty of ambiguous characters, such as the
bisexual husband in California Suite and the
playwright in Deathtrap. He tells me
about a study he read on "morbid jealousy," which
Branagh gave him. "In the study men will actually kill the
lovers of their wives -- and you had several cases of
that -- and if a man can't kill or doesn't want to
kill, he will try to wreak the ultimate revenge, which
is to engage in a certain homosexual relationship and so
humiliate the woman," explains Caine. "She can't be
more humiliated than that, to have a husband take a
lover away from her. We never carried it quite that
far."

Director Branagh
says he's not even sure about the sexuality of the
characters. "I found myself asking questions like that and
not really quite knowing," he says. "This is what I
find very rich about this particular version of this
piece, that there are good and positive question marks
that you leave the theater asking...I think that's one of
the secrets. It's a positive question mark and not an
irritating one. "

Law adds, "That
kind of ambiguity's very Pinter. I think that Dickie
was maybe bisexual for five seconds and no more than that.
In this one I still don't know. That's what makes it
so interesting. We just play the truth. I just play
the moment."

Tags: World, World

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