Virgil: Jesus, Fi. You're not taking this seriously.
Fiona: Yes, I am. You come home half-naked, drag me to the floor, and rant on about hit men. I'm taking that very seriously, Virg. It's paranoia!- Hans Matheson, Beth Winslet
Stars: Hans Matheson, Charlotte Coleman, Beth Winslet
Other Stars: Peter Ferdinando, Clive Russell, Lynda Bellingham, Michael Attwell, Peter Moreton, Simon Gregor, Jordan Maxwell, Grahame Fox, Velibor Topic
Director: Gareth Rhys Jones
MPAA Rating: R for (language, violence, sexuality and drug use)
Run Time: 01h:33m:02s
Release Date: 2001-09-04
Genre: suspense thriller
DVD Review"Don't judge a book by its cover." We've all heard that phrase before, and if ever that tried and true proverb needs uttering it's when discussing Gareth Rhys Jones' 1999 directorial debut, Bodywork. I don't know if it was Lions Gate or Avalanche Video who picked the horrendous cover art for this disc, but whoever it was should be taken out back and poked repeatedly with a sharp stick. Take a look for yourself (at the top of this page). We have a chiseled, bare-chested hunk holding a blowtorch, with a pistol tucked strategically in his waistband. A gorgeous babe, in tiny black shorts, a bare midriff, and a sultry, come-hither look about her, completes the shot. The double meaning of the title, combined with that horrible cover image, conjures up what I imagined to be one of those late-night cable soft-core action films; the kind with lots of skin and very little in the way of action. Boy, is that ever a wrong assumption.
Bodywork has more in common with the quirky storytelling of Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels than anything, and I'm not even sure who those people are on the cover. It looks like the two stars, but there is not a scene anywhere in the film that remotely resembles that shot.
Bodywork is the story of Virgil Guppy (Hans Matheson), a soft-spoken young Londoner who innocently purchases a used car from shady car dealer David Lear (Michael Attwell). The car breaks down after four miles, and Virgil is forced to take Lear to court to try get his money back, which is where all of his problems start. The furious Lear contracts a scooter-riding hit man (Velibor Topic) to take care of Mr. Guppy, and when a dead body is discovered in the trunk of Virgil's car, the story then becomes a rather entertaining series of unexpectedly violent and comic adventures. Fiona (Beth Winslet, sister of Kate) is Virgil's faithful girlfriend, and when he is brought to court, her relationship with him is severely strained. Virgil then gets involved with a weird family of car thieves, as well as a comic pair of Mutt and Jeff-type detectives who are doggedly on his trail.
Rhys Jones, who also wrote the screenplay, does a fine job of keeping the quirkiness factor pretty high without becoming too over the top. Much of the plot centers around some genuinely comic sequences, and as such doesn't necessarily come across as particularly true to life. However, like Ritchie, Rhys Jones can present a series of tragic and comic events together in such a way as to make it entertaining, and that works for me. An unexpected murder caused by Q-tips occurs near the film's conclusion, and that is a good representation of some of the typically left-of-center elements Rhys Jones puts out there. To add to the general tone of strangeness, there are brief moments intercut throughout the story where the characters, seated in some antiseptic all-white room, are discussing their relationship with Virgil, and we're not sure until the end (and maybe even then) where they are, or if he is dead or alive.
Not as gritty or violent as Ritchie's work, Bodywork does still have a nice mix of eccentric secondary characters that make this film a lot of fun. The late Charlotte Coleman (Four Weddings And A Funeral) is the elfishly cute car thief Tiffany Shades, who is partnered with the wiry crook Legal (Simon Gregor). Peter Moreton, as the son of the unscrupulous car dealer, is one of those comically violent types that always seem on the verge of exploding into a rage. The two investigators, exasperated Scot Sgt. Billy Hunch (Clive Russell) and gun happy Det. Danny Sparks (Grahame Fox) are a couple of extremely funny characters, and I wish these two would have had more screen time.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: Though it's not indicated anywhere on the packaging, Bodywork seems to have been issued in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, though apparently not anamorphic. Minimal flecks and blemishes indicate a rather clean source print, and the result is a disc with a nice, consistent color field. Hues remain fairly natural, though somewhat undersaturated. Not a reference disc, but there are certainly no glaring image problems to be found here.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: A sole 2-channel English stereo track provides mediocre imaging across the front channels, and though it is limited, there is nothing to complain about. Dialogue is presented well, and remains intelligible, which is key in a film with so many varied accents. Even with the absence of any rear channel effects, this track is robust enough to not detract from the film.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Tick Tock, Double Down
Extras Review: Three fullframe trailers (Bodywork, Tick Tock, and Double Down) are the only supplements here. Along with 24 chapter stops, the subtitles (English, Spanish and French) come in quite handy. They are almost a necessity at times, due to the occasional thick accent.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsDisregard the completely heinous cover art for Bodywork, and take a chance on this. If you liked Snatch and Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, then this may prove to be sufficiently Guy Ritchie-lite enough to satisfy.
Rich Rosell 2001-12-14