The Love Punch
Director: Joel Hopkins
Starring: Emma Thompson, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie
A pair of middle-aged divorcees become amateur jewel thieves in this lightweight Anglo-French farce, a film lifted by its starry cast and glitzy European locations. Emma Thompson and the writer-director Joel Hopkins previously scored a modest box-office hit with 2008's Last Chance Harvey, another sunny romcom aimed at older viewers. But The Love Punch is a much more creaky and clumsy caper, full of otherwise skilled actors frantically mugging for the camera in a desperate bid to squeeze laughs from an average script.
Thompson and Pierce Brosnan play Kate and Richard Jones, a British couple who remain on friendly terms more than a decade after their divorce. Richard is on the verge of comfortable retirement when his company is taken over by the ruthless French corporate raider Vincent Kruger (Laurent Lafitte), who promptly empties the pension fund, plunging both Richard and Kate into poverty in their autumn years. Meanwhile, Kruger has used the profits to purchase a dazzling US$10 million (Dh36.7m) diamond as an engagement gift for his beautiful young bride-to-be (Louise Bourgoin).
Setting off to Paris together on a mission to retrieve the money, Kate and Richard are snubbed by the arrogant, dismissive tycoon. In desperation, the pair then hatch a crazy scheme to gatecrash Kruger’s flashy wedding, steal the jewel and use the proceeds to pay back the lost pensions, including theirs. Aided by their neighbours, played by Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie, they sketch out a completely implausible plot to impersonate two Texan couples, break into a fortified château on the French Riviera, and replace the heavily guarded diamond with a fake. What could possibly go wrong?
From its meaningless title to its predictably romantic finale, The Love Punch is a lukewarm effort from all concerned. Never a subtle actor, Brosnan is more stiff and wooden than ever here. He also shares zero screen chemistry with Thompson, who at least has the good grace to look embarrassed at the predictable script. Crudely drawn stereotypes abound. Oddly, dark scenes of kidnap and attempted murder are forgotten just minutes later.
The Love Punch feels like a throwback to the comic heist movies of the 1960s and 1970s, but with little of their charm or energy. Perhaps viewers who find Richard Curtis romcoms too intellectually demanding might enjoy these laboured jokes and picture-postcard vistas, but the rest can safely keep their distance.