Review: Gambit, Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz in an art caper


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Oh dear. This remake of a 1966 Michael Caine art-forgery caper comes with a prestige cast and a screenplay by the Coen Brothers – and it's still hand-across-the-brow terrible.

The Pink Pantherish credit sequence that gives away the plot is an early warning sign. Colin Firth plays an art expert who recruits a forger (Tom Courtenay) and a Texan rodeo-girl (Cameron Diaz) in a scheme to rip off his obnoxious billionaire employer (Alan Rickman).

The gimmick of the film is to run the plot twice, first as a fantasy in which the scam proceeds without a hitch, second as the hilarious bungle it turns out to be. Except that it's not at all hilarious, unless you savour the Coens' faux-British pedantry ("her invigorating lack of decorum would have enraptured my younger self") or the spectacle of Colin Firth edging along a hotel parapet without his trousers.

And the combination of American sass and British cool is a total washout: Cameron Diaz doing karaoke is about as much fun as Colin Firth doing comedy. There are two bright sparks lighting up the murk: Pip Torrens and Julian Rhind-Tutt are slyly funny as reception managers at The Savoy, though neither of them, I notice, are named in the credits. Wisdom as well as drollery!