Sadly, I cant claim to be a Coen Brothers fan, although I enjoyed True Grit, other movies like Burn After Reading, No Country for Old Men, O Brother, Where Art Thou? & The Big Lebowski managed to pass me by with relative ease. I suppose they're like Marmite - The Coen's have their extremely passionate fan base and the stories of each movie seem to plod along amicably with a definitive start, middle and end but there is something that rings throughout all of them that just doesn't push any buttons for me.
That said, Gambit offered a potential little escape that in my mind put the movie up there as a comedy on par with Brit classics such as Bridget Jones or Love Actually but I'm sure this was almost purely down to the Colin Firth element of stiff upper 'Britishness' that is evident in the trailers.
Gambit starts simply enough - we are immediately introduced to bullied and undervalued Harry Deane (Firth), an art curator working exclusively for garish billionaire boss Lionel Shahbandar (Alan Rickman) and a plan to dupe him onto the purchase of a (forged) £11Mil lost Monet painting, Haystacks at Dusk by including the assistance of PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz) - a cattle rustler and great Granddaughter to an ex WWII soldier who was known to be in the same room as the original painting when the Nazi's were taken down and the painting went into obscurity. Shahbandar, already in receipt of the sister painting (Haystacks at Dawn) would be easily tempted and Firth would make away with the millions.
A perfect plan - and in the first opening 15 minutes of the movie we see the whole plot play out perfectly in his own mind however the remainder of the movie shows us what actually happened, and its in no way straight forward.
Firth, Rickman and Diaz all play their parts well, the sexy & sassy cowgirl in hot pants and cowboy boots is a persona often seen from Diaz and Firth as always, plays the bumbling Brit better than anybody. But its Rickmans portrayal of Shahbandar (after being almost exclusively seen as Professor Snape for the past 10 years) that's a real eye opener and re-affirms him as a great British talent, harping back to the days of Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves or Dogma.
The lead three aside - there are great cameos from Stanley Tucci as another art curator, poised to take the reigns from Deane as representative to Shahbandar and for me, the best jokes in the whole movie are innocently acted out by the unknowing Savoy Reception staff who with an heir of complete professionalism, allow Deane's pursuits to go almost unquestioned in his 'room to room' jaunt (in pants) throughout London's most exclusive hotel.
There is enough humour in this to get most of you through it and die-hard Coen fans will see this themselves as a little step in a different direction from the brothers but nethertheless it will be a firm favourite for some, and a passable chuckle along for others. The story does drag out a little bit but that just allows room for a beautifully crafted script, a few slapstick moments and a great little unexpected twist at the end.
After the recent Blockbuster fest of Bond & Twilight, a change in direction was needed and a rush of pre-Christmas movies now adorn the multiplexes this week so if you've seen the aforementioned 'must' see movies - this brings you down to earth - albeit with a little bump.