Fussy Tongue reviews The Love Punch (currently on Netflix), the British comedy starring Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan.
I saw this on the Netflix home page, and I could not hesitate. These are two among the most unforgettable faces of cinema. Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan. So imagine my stupour when, hovering over it as I was about to press play, I realised that Netflix believed I was at the end of the movie, that I had watched it. How could I have watched something with these two and forget it?! I hurried to the information button and read the summary. No, nothing popped to mind as I read, not a clue what it was, I just could not remember. My heart sunk.
I finally took the plunge and the courage to press play. The first second gave me hope and then I remembered that the beginning is always forgotten by the end even with the now cliche cheat to start at the end and then make the film a rewind. So I watched on. The few minutes that followed convinced me and prompted a sigh of relief and confusion. Nope, I had never watched it before. Hmm, curious.
I hurriedly (as much as the film pace allows) made it through the expositional opening dialogue. It was, after all, somehow cleverly written and made sense in context. Moreover, of course, it was brilliantly executed by our two protagonists. The movie very quickly showed its comedy penchant and even turned the main drama into a comedy journey. The few seconds that Ellen Thomas appear are pure gold because they sum up the comedy and the drama. She displays an implacable face as she delivers the comic lines and drops it neatly summing up the drama in the pension situation, revealing in a few minutes the meaning of entertainment. And there, right there with the drama is where I realised I had seen it before. When Brosnan’s character started making promises in a situation he knew not either the present nor could expect the outcome, he made an unkeepable set of promises only fiction can make come true. Oh dear, I had seen this movie before after all, and after all, it was forgettable! It almost made me ignore how infuriating fictional promises are, with their untidy and lose way of snapping you back into your suspension of disbelief.
What is it about?
So, the film is quite simple in its plot. Why not spend the rest of our money going on a diamond goose chase since the scripting gods are on our side? We’re poking fun at ageing, men seeking younger playmates, businesses slipping through the ethical gaps of the law, all on a bed of romance. We are rehashing old cliches with new faces. Thompson’s character fights her feeling and Brosnan’s puppies over his, both achieving the expectation of separated couples on the adventurous journey to getting back together as a dose of adrenaline powdered over a romantic script set in Paris would dictate. Star power means I am just savouring these two being on the screen and interacting with each other, whilst a mature woman interact with a little boy in an adult body hoping they will get back together because duh. Somehow they say a version of the following enough times that I believe it was a four-wall break, a thinly veiled apologetic confession rounded up with a hopeful wish from the writers to the viewers about the movie: “it sounds absurd, crazy, daft, stupid but brilliant”.
The ex-machina could make you lose the plot
And maybe it’s true. Maybe, “it sounds absurd, crazy, daft, stupid but brilliant”. But does that justify the contrivances? In fact is that still valid once you see the sheer number of them?
I never quite understood why a simple speech by a CEO needed to be password-protected but I guess there had to be an introduction to the main couple’s son, or tech ex-machina (Tex-machina?). His concomitance with the specific need the couple has for hacking makes him no more than a convenient tool of the plot rather than a natural existence in a story. Jerry’s past is a massive set of conveniences too, from his contacts to his internal system!
There are anti-conveniences too. Michaela’s call in the middle of the couple’s rekindling for one. If there are no reason to take the call, make it sound like there is anything private in it or even feel uncomfortable, knowing what we know, it is that very moment. And yet, the film tries to manufacture tension and finds a great way to senselessly frustrate its audience by throwing a senseless ex-machina.
The watch is entertaining albeit its quirky excess of ex-machina, thrown in to rush the plot before you get bored. It is utterly unbelievable, but it’s entertaining. It is fiction boarding on fantasy pretending to be non-fantasy but it’s entertaining.
The film could not be bothered tying up its unending thread of loose ends
The cleverness of the film is sprinkling its thinly-spread substance with charm. The actors, the setting even The film is as much riddled with lose ends as it is with ex-machinas. How does anyone justify the money they get to the authorities, what happens to the French newly divorcee, does her clearly unscrupulous husband let go of the affront of both his bride and his nearly-killed prisoners? Since, X-ray do detect diamonds, how is the presence of all the metal garbage in Jerry’s inside truly so conveniently hide the coveted gem and how would he have known it would? I mean, they can’t have been left on the digestive route as the stone definitely did, surely. Not to mention that the light should have been visible and suspicious that would have been emited in the optical spectrum. How do they know how to share the spoils of a meager war?
The good bits
It’s hard to forget that I could not remember having seen the movie in spite of its brilliant actors. However, there are some brilliant bits. Bloody hell, these people hold us by our emotions. Seriously, that is knowing your bloody audience that is, they will play us like heartstrings. Doreen’s prostate announcement and all the surrounding dialogue, the mere presence of Celia Imrie, the mysteriously rich yet unknown (at least for his wife) past of Timothy Spall’s character Jerry, his go at his son, Pierce Brosnan 007ing, the first flowers incident and especially how it ends, the ice jewels incident.
Of course, there are some incidents for which we cannot quite say whether or not they were intentional, such as the prop malfunction for the main character’s moustache as he passes for a Texan. And maybe the occasional script push is commendable, like when Emma’s characters says “It’s easy to say ‘I love you’ while you’re rolling around on expensive sheets, it’s so much harder when they need washing”.
ok, you win… sort of. Serious actors goofing about and showing us what comedy is on a bed of reality turned ridiculous, why not? Sometimes, we just need to relax and have a good hearty laugh, although I won’t affirm that it got to the hearty bit. Totally unrealistic but charming enough in its goofiness.