Lina Lamont

"What do you think I am, dumb or something?"

GAMBIT

This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 12 May 2013

Don’t be fooled. This art heist movie is neither Trance nor The Thomas Crown Affair, and just because it’s written by the Coen Brothers doesn’t mean a thing.

The premise isn’t even particularly Coenesque. Colin Firth and Tom Courtenay (enjoying a new lease on life following Quartet) concoct a plan to rob Firth’s diabolical boss (Alan Rickman) of millions of pounds by selling him a fake Monet. Courtenay’s avuncular voiceover calls it “a bit of a thieving”, which is quite charming and for a moment you think this crime caper might be fun. Until Cameron Diaz opens up a Texan accent and Firth’s drippy art historian gets punched in the nose. For the third time.

Reminiscent instead of the Pink Panther movies but without that charm or any pretence of originality – from the animated opening titles to the farce within, the film buckles under the weight of phoned-in performances and unfunny gags – it feels like something from a bygone era, except those bygones knew how to make a decent movie.

If I’m being harsh, it’s because of the crushing disappointment that the combination of Firth (channelling his Single Man without the sangfroid), Rickman and the Coens’ usually witty scripting doesn’t work at all. Even Diaz (whom I love) is awful, not just in southern accent but delivery of lines. Plus, something has gone very wrong with her face. Perhaps the two problems are related.

The script relies on double-entendres and people losing their trousers in hotel hallways to deliver a softcore version of Hangover-type idiocy (there are even monkeys riding dogs). It’s a limp, unfunny mess.

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