From the posters to the film, there is something ancient about “Gambit”. Released in November 2012 in Europe and America, it has hit the Indian theatres a good 10 months late.
A remake of a 1966 movie of the same name starring Shirley Maclaine and Michael Caine, this comedy-crime caper does not offer anything exceptional to the original premise.
The film begins somewhere in Texas where a harassed art appraiser, Harry Deane (Colin Firth) is making plans to dupe his abusive boss, the multi-millionaire media Moghul and art collector Lord Lionel Shahbandar (Alan Rickman).
Harry teams up with an artist and ‘forger of fine art’ Major (Tom Courtenay) to forge a Monet painting – Haystacks at Dusk, which is thought to be lost sometime during the World War II. Harry then ropes in a Texas Cow Girl, PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz) in order to create a backstory that would convince Shahbandar to pay millions for the rare image.
But then PJ Puznowski turns out to be eccentric and unpredictable, thereby jeopardizing Harry’s plans.
The entire drama evolves on how Harry tries to outdo Shahbandar and eventually cons him.
A classic case of style over narrative, the screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen indulges in goofy slapstick and situational comedy instead of an intelligible plot. The highlight is the nicely choreographed set piece involving Harry in the multiple rooms at the Savoy Hotel.
Director Michael Hoffman dishes off a rather average bland film. Even after leaving a trace from the very beginning, this con artist is seldom funny but is consistently amusing, never much more than that. The humour looks and feels ancient; from another era altogether and probably that’s why it is entertaining.
Probably, what does not work for “Gambit” is the lack of chemistry between stars Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz. Uninspiring Firth keeps his performance grounded in downbeat realism, Diaz never convinces anyone that she is a sassy trailer-park princess, and Alan Rickman as a nudist, does garner a few laughs, but overall, the rest of the characters especially the ‘Japanese’ have cartoonish characteristics which is simply not credible at all.
So you may giggle, gurgle or chuckle along the way, but it’s hard to be interested in anything that happens on screen. Watch it if you have nothing better to do.