Energy and Irony.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
Layer Cake is a slick caper, noir import from England with energy and
irony enough for both sides of the Atlantic. XXXX (Daniel Craig) is a very satisfied drug dealer, wealthy and in control of his little world. His initial voiceover, reminiscent of Ray Liotta's in Casino, has the bounce of a man who found his calling, from which he plans to retire.
Enter an uber-boss with a small job for XXXX to do: Find the cocaine-addicted daughter of an even more powerful lord. XXXX finds himself in a much bigger world of much tougher hoods, who don't respect his control of his world. The intricacies of this dense plot, with enough minor characters to start a clown troupe, are challenging because of too many ends not tied (What happened to the girl?) and those damnably beautiful but often incomprehensible British dialects. Anglophile that I am and English major that I was, I sometimes have difficulty understanding anyone in the film but the memorable Michael Gambon, whose thespian experience is so varied that he instinctively straddles the line between upper class diction and lower class cockney.
The real business of Layer Cake is business itself, how to conduct it, be successful, and get out alive. Advice such as sticking to a plan and being a good middleman takes a life or death cast to it and retains emphasis as those who don't follow the advice drop away in the film. The cake has too many layers to be underestimated.
Daniel Craig is rumored to be the top candidate after Pierce Brosnan for the next James Bond. Although most critics I know would prefer to see Clive Owen in the role, Craig is cool enough to make us all satisfied for a lifetime of intrigue and style.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com.