All I can say about this movie is, pay attention! All will be revealed."
Those were Guy Ritchie's opening remarks before the screening of his long-languishing twisty noir thriller, Revolver, at the Tribeca Grand Screening Room on Sunday. When the lights came up, Guy stood again and said, "Thank you all for your support and applause. And you know what - this is the first time I've understood the movie!"
Guy Ritchie is a fascinating man, part "larky" bloke out for a good time at the pub with his pals, part (the bigger part) intense, serious, deep thinker, much given to conversations on life, death, religion, the ego, fear and paranoia. His sexy looks make the less carefree aspect of his personality a conflict for those who meet him. In his presence it is not easy - at first - to concentrate on the metaphysical.
He has been passionately committed to Revolver, which came and went quickly in Britain and hasn't been seen at all here. (Samuel Goldwyn rescued the movie, and it opens around the country Friday.) I saw it a year ago and wrote it up, confessing that Guy's thought-laden, violent and often grimly funny gangster tale left me enjoyably confused. When he told me he'd changed it some, I said, "But maybe I'll prefer not to understand it better?"
He laughed and said, "Don't worry you'll still be ... challenged."
Indeed! Although there have been clarifying edits, the film, with its running theme of the fear that exists in your own mind, the distorting power of ego, might still lead some to utter one of Ray Liotta's big lines, "What the [expletive] did that mean?!" (There are compelling performances from Liotta as the operatically self-involved villain, as well as Jason Statham as the tormented protagonist and Andre Benjamin and Vincent Pastore as two of his tormentors.) Be prepared, it's quite violent. Though Ritchie himself said after the screening, "Wow, I didn't remember that much violence!" But, as with past classics like Murder, My Sweet or The Lady From Shanghai, you can't look away for a moment, because each moment contains a vital, yet dazzlingly obscure, clue.
This movie means a lot to Ritchie, and he is not through with its central issue - the ego. He is finishing up a documentary on the subject. Surprisingly, however, he is really a sucker for "old-fashioned entertainment." When I suggested he do a "big" movie, he lit up. "Oh, that's what I want to do. I want to do a big comedy about World War II." Granted, this is not generally seen as a funny subject, but there were plenty of musicals and lighthearted war-themed movies during that conflict. So, Guy might be onto something.
And the missus?
After the screening, Guy, accompanied by his wife, a blond singer of note, headed to the roof club of the Gramercy Park Hotel.
Mrs. Ritchie (Madonna) looked sensational in black, with a flattering shorter hairstyle, a tad more meat on her bones, and sky-high Christian Dior heels. "Want to feel my calf muscle?" she announced at one point, causing her already-jammed VIP section to dissolve into men, women and those undecided to attempt a grope. She was super-supportive and wifey, though it is impossible to hide her light under a bushel. But Guy gets it 'cause he understands - ego.