The con is on
Michael Hoffman —whose previous directing credits include 1999's A Midsummer Night's Dream —directs Academy Award winner Colin Firth (The King's Speech), Cameron Diaz (The Mask) and the brilliantly British Alan Rickman (Die Hard). Firth stars as Harry Deane, an art curator who feels a little bereaved at the hands of his terribly abusive but brilliantly entertaining boss Lionel Shahbandar, played by the ever villainous Rickman with such practiced ease. Diaz features as PJ Puznowski, a Texan cowgirl whom Deane enlists in a plan to wreak revenge upon his malevolent superior by hoodwinking him into buying a fake Monet painting.
There are hearty laughs and churlish chuckles throughout, owing to a pristine screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen, who have long been renowned for their Midas touch. Gambit is no exception to the brothers' golden writing credits, as they outdo themselves with this re-envisioning of the 1966 Michael Caine original, matching the comedic value of their own masterpiece Burn After Reading in a quite different, more mainstream, way.
After all, Gambit takes the sophistication, the Britishness, the debonairness which Firth so easily dissipates, and juxtaposes with it the very American sweetheart which Diaz pulls off in enough style to match her very British co-stars. What results, then, is a stunning hour and a half of riotous yet subtly pensive entertainment, with more than enough twists and turns from the brothers whose gorgeously divergent screenplays frequently make the Long and Winding Road seem almost Roman in comparison.
If nothing else, this film is one to watch purely for the entertainment value of Alan Rickman's nasty billionaire, but it has so many more strings to its bow besides.
Robin James Kerrison
Screenings of this film:
|2012/2013 Spring Term – (35mm)|