If your penchant is for subtitled French films with languorous plots and layers of meaning, please move along – there is nothing for you here. If, however, you like a comedy caper set in the south of France with all the subtlety and nuance of Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, step this way.
For you, I have The Love Punch.
The film, released recently on DVD, stars Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson, Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie. It is precisely this stellar cast that keeps this slice of slapstick from grating.
The plot centres on Richard Jones, played by Brosnan, who has sold his company and is about to retire with the proceeds when he realises he and all his employees have been swindled out of their pensions. The bad guys in so many films are British or German, but here it is a Frenchman, Vincent Kruger, played by Laurent Lafitte.
Naturally, in times of trouble, he turns to his ex-wife, played by Thompson. Together they set off for France, where, with the help of their best friends, played by Spall and Imrie, they carry out a jewel heist. To compensate for the pension fund loss, they set out to snaffle Kruger’s bride’s multi-million euro diamond necklace on the day of their wedding.
“Not since Acorn Antiques has Celia Imrie had as much opportunity to flare her nostrils in disapproval”
Whether Jones and his ex-wife will get back together during the proceedings is a sub-plot that will keep you on the edge of, well, switching channels.
The film sits happily alongside Mamma Mia in Brosnan’s enjoyable but ultimately disposable post-Bond catalogue. For me, the real star is Celia Imrie. Not since she played Miss Babs in Victoria Wood’s Acorn Antiques has she had as much opportunity to flare her nostrils quite so dramatically in disapproval.
When all is said and done, The Love Punch won’t win any awards for its depth, but it makes for perfect Saturday night viewing.