3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Miranda There's a stylish energy to this British comedy that makes it well worth seeing, even if it does eventually turn into a fairly typical romantic caper. Frank (Simm) is a shy librarian in the North of England who's instantly smitten when the exotic-looking Miranda (Ricci) walks in. She's involved in a scam to sell the soon-to-be-razed library to a couple of Japanese businessmen, but Frank doesn't know that. And after pursuing her like a puppy, he finally begins to break through her steely exterior. But now it's time for her to move on to her next con, working with her boss Christian (Hurt) to get a London businessman (MacLachlan) to buy a disused hospital. But when Frank bumbles along in her wake, things get rather complicated.

Director Munden starts off brilliantly, with clever title animation and a terrific introduction to the characters as Miranda brings a bit of badly needed mystery to Frank's dull life. Munden constantly reveals small details and creates a vivid, colourful atmosphere from the start, although when the action shifts to the big sting in London, things slow down considerably, falling back on more-standard script machinations. But at least by then we're hooked on the characters. Simm is charming and a little bit desperate, drawing us into the story from his naive perspective; while Ricci gives a grown-up, shaded performance that nicely uses her unusual physicality. Let's face it, she's rather funny looking, in a sexy sort of way. MacLachlan has strangely switched from playing the ingenue (Blue Velvet) to the quirky nice guy (Twin Peaks) and now the psychotic nut-case (Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet). He does it well, but it is a little unsettling! Meanwhile, the film builds the mystery, comedy and romance quite nicely, although the pay-offs are a little too gentle ... and for all the erotic teasing, the sex is strangely goofy. In the end, the film feels almost weightless. After touching on some terrific themes (can we every really know each other?) and creating a wonderfully engaging vibe, it ends up kind of weak-kneed and silly. In a nice way.

cert 15 themes, language, some sex 24.Sep.03

dir Marc Munden
scr Rob Young
with Christina Ricci, John Simm, Kyle MacLachlan, John Hurt, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Cavan Clerkin, Matthew Marsh, Pik Sen Lim, Joanne Froggatt, Tamsin Grieg, Ryozo Kohira, Dennis Matsuki
release UK 7.Nov.03; US 24.Jun.03 DVD
02/UK 1h30

Woman of mystery: Ricci

simm maclachlan hurt
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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall