The perfect set up for a violent and horrific revenge plot, then; but there is no violence in 44 Inch Chest, horrific or otherwise. In a whirl of verbal abuse, flashbacks and hallucinatory sequences brought on by Diamond’s drinking, the film builds tension almost to boiling point, before giving way to what is essentially (*SPOILER ALERT*) one giant anti-climax; Loverboy walks free, Diamond’s friends go home and leave him sitting in the derelict house all alone. The disappointment many felt with this ending is somewhat understandable. 44 Inch Chest was, and continues to be, heavily marketed on its revenge theme, and the trailers made the film look like a gangster/heist movie in the same vein as Sexy Beast (2000), something which was almost to be expected, as the screenplay for 44 Inch Chest was penned by the same writing team who brought us the former Winstone vehicle.
But at heart, 44 Inch Chest is not a gangster movie, nor even strictly a revenge movie. Instead, 44 Inch Chest is about love lost to another, and the emotions one feels as a result. The ultimate message of the film is that in such circumstances, revenge may be hugely desired, but that it is not something many of us get, or – if we have the opportunity – have the guts or the inclination to go through with. 44 Inch Chest is a film to be appreciated for its restraint in this regard; had a bloody and horrifying revenge been carried out on Loverboy, it would be hard not to feel the film had simply sold out to sensationalism.
44 Inch Chest is a poetically heartbreaking film about love and loss that has been tragically mis-sold, underappreciated and unseen. To look past the misguided marketing is to find a film with resonance and filled with near-perfect performances, universally identifiable themes and above all, an important message: love hurts, but revenge will not take that hurt away.