Owen Gleiberman
March 28, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Alan Bates, Sting
genre
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a D+

Sting, one of the few rock stars who actually knows how to act, is all cocked eyebrows and incubus grins as Fledge, a demonic butler who arrives at an English country estate and proceeds to take over the household from within. For half an hour or so, it’s fun to see him lurk in the corners while Alan Bates, overacting joyously, sputters and fulminates as the batty, aristocratic Sir Hugo. The moment that Sir Hugo’s daughter’s fiance mysteriously disappears, though, so, in a wink, does the picture’s entertainment value. It becomes a scrappy whodunit that gives us little reason to care about the ”who” or the ”it.” The meaninglessly naughty title tells you that someone was trying for a black-comic subversion of the Masterpiece Theatre school. But Gentlemen Don’t Eat Poets is too cardboard to be sexy, funny, or truly perverse. It’s Angels & Insects without enough bugs.

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