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Dirty Tricks


Nothing if not dirty (read: good!)

Rod Lott January 27th, 2011

When you use the title "Dirty Tricks," you'd better not play nice.

dirtytricks

This 2000 British series is nothing if not dirty, in language, sex and above all, deeds. (Read: good!)

Based on a Michael Dibdin novel, the two-episode crime comedy focuses on a sad-sack tutor Edward (Martin Clunes), who stumbles into the big time and the high life once he kills his friend.

But let me back up: Edward is friends with Dennis (Neil Dudgeon), who's married to Karen (Julie Graham) and has a huge life insurance policy. Because Dennis has erectile dysfunction, Karen is sexually frustrated, to say the least, so she's dug her paws into Edward, who's more than happy to oblige. While the three are boating one day, Dennis falls in, and in trying to save his pal from drowning, Edward accidentally kills him with a paddle blow to the head.

Oops.

And that's just the start of a trail of bodies Edward leaves behind, however mistakenly. The authorities aren't likely to see it that way, so he has to scamper about and craft lies and cover his tracks and hire a swarthy hit man and basically make the show as amusing discomforting as possible.

The comedy is as dark as Clunes' ears are big, so if your sense of humor isn't attuned to be triggered by the sight of Edward hugging a Hefty-bagged corpse while trying to fool passing bikers, look elsewhere. It's smartly written and slyly performed, especially by Graham, who first made an impression on me via the UK's short-lived "Bonekickers" historical adventure series.

At 146 minutes, it's really like a long feature than a miniseries; either way, I'd argue the first two-thirds are much stronger than its final one, although the comeuppance ending is one of those satisfying soul-screwers that only black comedies can get away with pulling. —Rod Lott

 
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