The Love PunchTuesday 15 Apr 2014
Director: Joel Hopkins
Starring: Emma Thompson, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Spall
Duration: 95 minutes
I went into this screening looking forward to a bit of fun. Despite being male, I freely admit that I love romantic comedies, a much-maligned sub-genre that goes all the way back to It Happened One Night, Frank Capra’s 1932 ground-breaker starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.
Since then there have been many great movies that either could or must be considered romantic comedies – but there have also been some howlers along the way. The Love Punch, unfortunately, sits more comfortably in the latter category.
It’s such a pity, because one glance at the cast would inspire confidence: Pierce Brosnan will always put in a shift, while Emma Thompson has a certain empathy she brings to every part. Timothy Spall's another positive, as is Celia Imrie, but it’s the script and plot that let this film down, and badly.
Brosnan and Thompson double-act as a posh English divorced couple plotting a jewel heist when their pension funds are obliterated as a result of a company buy-out by an evil entrepreneur, hammed-up by Laurent Lafitte.
Right from the start, the dialogue and situations fall flat, but that didn't prevent the two leads from giving the impression that they’re in an Ealing, Preston Sturges or Ernst Lubitsch classic, rather than the equivalent of a feature-length version of On the Buses. Now that's acting.
Like property, location is always of premium importance in a film, and much of The Love Punch was shot in Paris and the South of France, which has to have made filming this flimsy, predictable yarn a lot easier than if it was on some cold backlot at Pinewood.
While it’s nowhere near the grim experiences of Batman and Robin or The Avengers – two films that show how easy it is for dreadful cinema to escape once there’s a decent cast – The Love Punch is a huge disappointment. And I'm someone who could watch Emma Thompson reading the Golden Pages and be transfixed.