Devil in a Blue Dress: the movie

last updated: 26 January 2019 (approximate reading time: 3 minutes; 626 words)

You probably didn’t know Don Cheadle needed forgiving. Some context might help…

Reasons to Forgive Don Cheadle

I’m a Londoner. London born, London bred, and I’ve lived my entire life in London.

I understand how Londoners talk. And it’s not just one way—there is not a single London accent or dialect. Added to which there are somewhat over 300 first languages spoken in the metropolis and the accents when people speak English, the cadences they use to talk, the words they employ are all different. Some even speak cockney…but not that many these days.

If you’ve ever watched Ocean’s Eleven (the 2001 George Clooney version)—and you should watch it, it’s a good movie—you will have heard Don Cheadle “speak London”. I could try to explain my pain, but it’s much easier to say it’s not the kind of accent you ever hear in London. Ever.

However, I can forgive Cheadle, and I can explain that forgiveness in one word: Mouse.

Devil in a Blue Dress

In the movie Devil in a Blue Dress, Cheadle plays Raymond “Mouse” Alexander. In a film crammed with outstanding performances (Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, and Jennifer Beals), Cheadle’s performance stands above all others.

Mouse is charming, self-aware, witty, and ruthless. He sees the weaknesses in his friend Easy Rawlins (played by Washington) and he still stands next to him, ready to fight.

But above all, Mouse is deadly. And his entrance about halfway through the movie is a moment to be remembered.

If you haven’t seen the film, seek it out. You will enjoy it.

You will also understand why I can forgive Cheadle. His performance is electric. You don’t see the actor, you only see the diminutive killer, Mouse.

Book vs Movie

You also need to read the book.

So often a great novel becomes a disappointing movie which has little resemblance to the source material. Not so here.

The movie is close to the book, but there are changes. The central thrust of the story remains, but the way the story is told—and the motivations of the characters—are tightened. I think the changes work and improve the story that is seen on screen.

The particular changes are:

  • In the movie there are fewer characters and there is less killing (there are fewer characters to kill).
  • Leading to the denouement of the movie, Easy and Mouse run together. In contrast, in the book, Mouse is the deus ex machina savior who turns up and saves Easy.
  • There’s more sex in the book—both in terms of Easy having more sex and sexual deviance (in particular, the child abuse is explicit in the book—child abuse is “on screen”, Monet recounts her abuse by her father, Richard McGee procures children for abuse).
  • In the book, Monet’s motivation is stronger. Equally she is more manipulative (she behaves in a more devil-like manner, if you will). Most of the changes from book to screen work—this change is least satisfying to my way of thinking.
  • In the book, Monet hides her ethnicity from Todd Carter (the man she wanted to marry). In the movie Carter is fully aware, but his family disapproves of the relationship.
  • In the movie, the money was paid to Monet by Carter’s family (in order to end her relationship with Carter). In the book, Monet steals the money from Carter. In the movie, Rawlins seeks to return his share of the money Monet paid him. In the book, Rawlins keeps his share of Carter’s stolen money—what he doesn’t invest he buries in his back yard for security.

Much of the movie dialog is lifted directly from the book. However, there are places in the movie where the dialog is snappier and wittier.

Watch the movie, read the book. You’ll thank me later.

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