Emma Thompson and Piers Brosnan get a second chance at love

Emma Thompson and Piers Brosnan get a second chance at love

The Love Punch (April 18, 2014)

Older audiences did not warm to the superb British film, Le Week-End (2013) with its dark, unromantic portrait of retirement dreams fading along with a thirty- year marriage. A trip to Paris to revive the spark only leads to the emergence of some hard truths.

In Joel Hopkins’ new film, The Love Punch. Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan play a divorced middle-aged British couple who travel to Paris and the Riviera to save their retirement fund and end up saving a lot more.

Comparing Le Week-End to The Love Punch is like comparing Kramer vs Kramer to Mr Wonderful.  The Love Punch is a vapid screwball romcom about materialism.

Five years ago London Writer/Director Joel Hopkins (Jump Tomorrow) collaborated with Emma Thompson on Last Chance Harvey, a mellow film about a middle-aged divorced man who is afraid of taking a second chance at happiness.

The Love Punch, Thompson’s second collaboration with Hopkins is also about two older people getting a second chance at love.  Thompson suggested Pierce Brosnan.  The former James Bond now plays wealthy, eligible professionals in adult romcoms set in exotic locations like Mama Mia! Love is All You Need – and The Love Punch. 

Imagining Thompson or Brosnan as financially challenged is difficult, but when about-to-retire Richard (Brosnan) learns that a French financier has acquired his investment firm and stripped its assets, the yacht he was planning to buy is a dashed dream.

Richard, who is on civil terms with his ex-wife Kate (Thompson), pays a visit to her beautiful, sprawling house to tell her the bad news about her pension fund and they devise a plan.  The two fly to Paris where the French takeover scoundrel (Laurent Lafitte) ejects them from his office. Undaunted, they follow him to the Riviera where he is to marry an innocent victim, Manon (Louise Bourgoin) in a big society wedding.

After learning that the French embezzler has purchased a £10 million diamond to present to Manon, they hatch a plan to steal it and summon their old friends (Celia Imrie and Timothy Spall). The four plan to gain access to Manon by posing as the Texan investors who were invited to the wedding.

The Love Punch is nothing if not predictable and along the way, the borrowing from other films is so obvious the film might seem familiar.  The ex-husband and wife banter aspires to His Girl Friday level without success and the jewel theft is, of course, Pink Panther.

The wedding crashing section, which involves the two couples scuba diving to the mansion and emerging immaculate in formal ball room attire is straight out True Lies, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Hopkins also borrows from that film (with references to Bond) in trying to squeeze some laughs out of Tim Spall’s character. His unsuspecting wife (Imrie) learns that her ordinary, dull husband was an unlikely adventurer, having served in Guam, the French Foreign Legion and the Australian Parachute Regiment.

Hopkins does not bother about the implausibility of just about everything let alone the holes in the plot.  When the two couples drug the real Texan guests to take their place at the party, they overlook the fact that in expensive hotels, the maids turn down the covers each night.

The Texans would therefore have ample time to ring the alarm bells before the disguised couples make it out of the mansion with the jewel.   Nor does Hopkins bother with building tension into the film since nothing much is at stake.

The people who will really suffer if Richard does not recover the pension fund are the employees whose plight is left far behind when the fun begins for Richard and Kate.

The  insight into older marriages and second chances that made Le Week-End so thought-provoking as well as entertaining, is reduced to a rather banal line in The Love Punch: “ We got together too young – if only we’d met now.’

Fortunately, if not somewhat coincidentally, both are free to re-write history – and buy that boat.

by Joyce Glasser, Mature Times film reviewer