Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets

on March 07, 1997 by Pat Kramer
   "Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets" is a schizophrenic film providing, at best, lukewarm entertainment value. Chosen by the film's producer, Trudie Styler, as an acting vehicle for her rock star-turned-actor/husband Sting ("Plenty"), the film is sketchy in plot and incoherent in its efforts to bring to the screen Patrick McGrath's mystery novel "The Grotesque."
   Sting plays the pivotal role of Fledge, a mysterious butler who shows up suddenly at the country home of Sir Hugo Coal (Alan Bates) with his alcoholic housekeeper/wife, Doris (Styler). Bates ("Hamlet") convincingly plays the part of an eccentric paleontologist whose lust for creepy, crawly things leaves his American wife, Harriet (Theresa Russell) cold. But Russell ("Whore") seems to be walking through her lines without giving the role much thought. Perhaps it's because her most vivid scenes are those involving her seduction by Fledge, which takes precedence over the film's dramatic content. While Fledge is wreaking havoc on Sir Hugo's household, a murder takes place: that of poet Sidney Giblet, the would-be fiance of Cleo--Harriet and Hugo's teenage daughter. As Cleo, Lena Headey ("The Remains of the Day") provides one of the few performances worth watching as she secretly investigates the crime, well aware of the deceit around her. As the murder investigation heats up, the cast grows to include an inept detective, the murdered man's cold-hearted mother and a pig farmer who discovers his animals feasting on human remains. "Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets" is a film that has potential for black comedy but is so lacking in direction that it falls far short of that goal. Filmed in just six weeks' time, "Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets" will be remembered for what it is: a film created as a vehicle for Sting by his producer wife. Starring Sting, Alan Bates and Theresa Russell. Directed by John-Paul Davidson. Written by Patrick McGrath. Produced by Trudie Styler. A Live release. Comedy. Rated R for sexuality and some gore. Running time: 98 min.
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