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A look inside Hollywood and the movies. : LOCAL BOY BLUES : Our Guess: ‘Always Hurt the One You Love’ Syndrome

The British media seem to go overboard in displaying their hostility toward fellow countryman Kenneth Branagh, whose “Dead Again” opened in London last weekend.

“Dead Again” became a hit movie in the United States, helped by delighted critics. There was no chance the pattern would be repeated in Britain; London’s Time Out magazine reported “hoots of derision” during a press screening at implausibilities in the film’s plot.

Then the verdicts came in. “It fails so spectacularly that it may well become the fetish of a camp cult,” wrote an Empire magazine reviewer. “Sloppily constructed and cut, riddled with cliches and cant,” opined Time Out’s critic.

Worse followed. The Independent’s Anthony Lane carped: “I was dying for a good shock, but I just felt dead, then dead again. And again.” The Observer’s Philip French described the film as a “slightly uncomfortable experience, like accompanying someone on a spending spree using Alfred Hitchcock’s credit cards.”

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Geoff Brown of the Times complained: “Branagh attacks this nonsense with the same fondness for pastiche and overkill that dragged down ‘Henry V’ . . . the level of artifice soon becomes stifling.” Even the more charitable Derek Malcolm in the Guardian grumbled “Dead Again” was “too self-conscious by half and hasn’t the cinematic know-how to get away with it.”

Only Iain Johnstone of the Sunday Times sounded a minority note among the national critics. Branagh’s gift, he wrote, “is with the actors, not least himself--he becomes a plausible enough American to qualify for instant membership of the Brat Pack.”

Branagh, 30, saw this coming. Interviewed by Empire, he complained of a British “resentment that just occurs against someone who is relatively young and relatively successful.” He added sardonically: “If some people don’t like your films, what a tragedy, what a great personal tragedy! You won’t get rid of me that easily. I’m much too thick-skinned for that.”

British audiences clearly care little for critics’ opinions. “Dead Again” grossed 528,700 (around $900,000) in 176 theaters at the weekend. A spokesman for its distributors confirmed this made it the No. 1 film in London and the No. 2 film in Britain, second to “The Commitments,” which is on twice as many screens.

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