Sunday 25 November 2012

Review: Gambit (2012)

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Gambit poster

Gambit (2012)
89 mins / Dir. Michael Hoffman

What could be better, on a cold, wet Sunday afternoon, than an old-fashioned Brit-farce, filled with a cast who've proved their comedic chops over the years..?

...Very few things could be better. In fact, next time I'll flip through my DVDs and find one…

The Problem? It's just not that good. Oh, it should be; the names on the outside seem reliable enough, but something's amiss. Diaz ('PJ') and Firth ('Harry') seem woefully miscast as a Texan cowgirl and harassed art curator respectively. They pull the right faces and say the right lines, but they're never especially engaging or, crucially, likeable. Similarly with Rickman as Harry's overbearing boss, he seems to be phoning in his performance and never reaches the dastardly heights his character requires. Elsewhere we have secondary characters in the form of Tom Courtenay as 'The Major', clunkily reading an occasional narration (for the first time, it sounds like), and Stanley Tucci as German art curator and Harry's rival, Martin, who seems to come over as a cut-price version of Stanley Tucci, somehow.

The plot is standard farce-fodder (and in itself, interesting to the point where I'll be checking out the 1966 version of the film), and the screenplay is fine, if a little stilted. But Gambit seems trapped between wanting to be a haphazard farce and a slick heist movie, and sadly it achieves neither.

There are some nice stylistic touches (Harry's envisioning of how the plan will run, at the beginning of the movie), and some chuckles (the hotel/vase/trousers routine midway through), but are they aren't enough to warrant building an entire film around. I couldn't help but feel that if the remake had been produced in 1978, and starred Terry Scott and Arthur Lowe in place of Firth and Rickman, the result would have been sharper, funnier and charming. er.

Much like the forgeries that are the centrepiece of the film, Gambit may have the requisite brush-strokes, but it lacks feeling.

They don't make 'em like they used to.


• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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