The Love Punch
dir-scr Joel Hopkins
prd Jean-Charles Levy, Clement Miserez, Tim Perell, Nicola Usborne
with Emma Thompson, Pierce Brosnan, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, Laurent Lafitte, Louise Bourgoin, Tuppence Middleton, Jack Wilkinson, Jean-Louis Barcelona, Marisa Berenson, Adam Byron, Anna Brooke
release UK 18.Apr.14
13/UK StudioCanal 1h34
The Love Punch
Let's steal a diamond: Thompson and Brosnan

imrie spall middleton
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Love Punch There's an old-school feel to this zany caper comedy, which indulges in slapstick and romance but neglects to hold things together with a coherent script. As writer-director Hopkins strains for a screwball tone, the story's deep flaws make it feel very corny. But there's some mindless fun to be had along the way.

After his company is purchased and eviscerated, Richard (Brosnan) turns to his ex-wife Kate (Thompson) for help. Both of them have lost their income and pensions, so they travel to Paris to confront the new owner Vincent (Lafitte). When he coldly dismisses them, they hatch a plot to crash his wedding on the Riviera, where his trophy bride Manon (Bourgoin) will be wearing a $10m diamond that could solve their problems. For help, they turn to their up-for-it neighbours Penelope and Jerry (Imrie and Spall).

The preposterous plan gets more insane by the moment, and yet these four apparently not-stupid people keep right on going, commenting that all they have left to lose is their dignity. Indeed. But as actors, they could also lose their reputations for choosing clever scripts, because this one is packed boneheaded plot points and lazy writing (when in doubt, call Wilkinson's computer whiz for help or invent another dark-horse skill for Spall). But the film has a relentlessly bouncy tone, never hesitating before each nutty stage in the caper.

Thompson and Brosnan dive in shamelessly, punching all of the comedy beats expertly while generating some prickly chemistry between these exes who are so clearly destined to be together. Imrie and Spall get the comic-relief roles, camping up the physicality as well as their random verbal gags. Lafitte and Bourgoin struggle to make their characters remotely believable, which is odd since the movie is done in the style of a broad French farce.

Thanks to the cast, there are just enough subtle moments to hold our attention until the next terrible line of dialog snaps us out of the story. And the gorgeous scenery helps too. But by forcing these terrific actors to get involved in a cockamamie kidnapping, ludicrously dangerous gunplay and a James Bond-style scuba-diving, cliff-climbing heist, writer-director Hopkins seems to have forgotten that even the silliest farce needs a foundation to stand on.

cert 12 themes, language, violence, innuendo 26.Mar.14

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