Born Romantic
dir-scr David Kane
with Craig Ferguson, Jane Horrocks, Adrian Lester, Catherine McCormack, Jimi Mistry, David Morissey, Olivia Williams, Hermoine Norris, Ian Hart, John Thomson, Paddy Considine, Kenneth Cranham
release UK 9.Mar.01; US 28.Sep.01
BBC 00/UK 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
From the writer-director of 1999's superb This Year's Love, another ensemble rom-com set in London with a top cast of British talent. The action centres on three couples swirling around a salsa dance hall and a small taxi company. Frankie (Saving Grace's Ferguson) is trying to move on from his bitter ex-wife (Cold Feet's Norris) and woo a classy bird (The Sixth Sense's Williams); failed musician Fergus (Hilary & Jackie's Morrissey) is trying to regain the girl (Little Voice's Horrocks) he lost eight years earlier; and bumbling criminal Eddie (East Is East's Mistry) is strangely smitten by the disease and death-obsessed Jocelyn (This Year's Love's McCormack). It's up to a friendly cab driver (Maybe Baby's Lester) to help sort things out, while two other cab drivers (This Year's Love's Hart and Cold Feet's Thomson) make pithy comments on the battle of the sexes.

All of the story threads are woven together with skill and style by Kane, who keeps us laughing (and sighing) from start to finish, throwing in some great salsa music along the way. There's nothing too demanding about the story, and nothing terribly insightful or original either, but it's so charming that we hardly mind. The actors fairly coast through their roles, leaving the subtext behind in lieu of comedy shtick and romantic shenanigans. It doesn't look particularly good, and the salsa scenes are directed with an astonishing lack of energy. But all of the plot threads are expertly edited to keep us right with the characters, even though the finale is slightly manipulative and sickly sweet. Still, it's bright and funny and completely undemanding. Great cast. Zingy humour. Cute love stories. There are worse ways to spend 100 minutes.

[15--adult themes and situations, language] 16.Nov.00 lff

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall