Gambit

Alan Rickman, a script by the Coen Brothers. There it was on iTunes, I didn’t have to wait till Christmas for the annual Coen brother’s film. I was entranced, I started watching it straight away. The credit “written by Joel and Ethan Coen” filled me with great joy; I believe them to be the best film writers in the world, now, and possibly ever. I am a hopeless slavish fan.They have taught me much. Then “Directed by Philip Hoffman.”- Shit. Who was Philip Hoffman? My memory told me (wrongly) that he’d directed “Bad Santa” (he didn’t). In fact he was the director of “The Last Station” a film about the death of Leo Tolstoy which I had liked a lot; Still why hadn’t the Coens directed their own material? Then again George Clooney had directed a Coen Brothers script in “Suburbicon and done a bloody good job, making a fine film, so I slapped my inner naysayer down and settled back with as open a mind as possible.

Colin Firth works as art curator for Alan Rickman an unpleasant borderline  psycho media magnate who buys “good taste” by the yard, with a fat chequebook. Colin Firth has a pretty free hand. He picks it, his boss pays, pretends he knows shit from shoe polish and goes on treating his art curator like shoe polish. Colin Firth hatches a “foolproof” plan to rip his boss off, partly as revenge, partly out of greed. He enlists a good friend, an art forger, to knock up a copy of a Monet his boss wants, mostly to spite a rival collector.

Colin Firth manufactures a fake provenance to go with the fake painting and “badda bing!” They’ll sell his boss the worthless fake for eleven million dollars and vanish under a rock leaving his tasteless boss none the wiser. Its a great plan, in theory and right off the bat the film shows the plan functioning perfectly.Then we’re are shown the plan coming in contact with “reality” and before you know it, Colin Firth is standing terrified on a narrow ledge outside the Savoy Hotel in London; five floors above a busy street – without any pants. After mastering every style of screenplay from just about every genre – the Coens had turned their talents to the best in British door-slamming farce – and completely blitzed it. I found myself having so much fun I was almost escorted from my own living room. I’ve read some quite churlish reviews of this film by people who take themselves far too seriously and who feel British farce to be “beneath” them – people who, I suspect probably lap up Ace Ventura Pet Detective when they think no-one is looking.

Myself, I’ll laugh at anything I think is funny, From Hitler giving a speech to Donald Trump trying to walk, the world is a rich tapestry of potential humour – if you look at it right. I found “Gambit” too be a remarkably successful film, exceptionally funny and based around a script at least as solid as the classic “Noises Off”. The Coen Brothers are truly wonderful enough to almost make up for Donald Trump. Almost. (c) Alex Rieneck 2018

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