There are two types of British indie movies. Some are touched with deep or crazy ideas too creative for mainstream release. Others give middle-aged British stars something to do in between “Harry Potter” movies.
Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan are the middle-age British stars of record in Jeff Hopkins’s romantic comedy, “The Love Punch.” They play a divorced English couple driven to both revenge and the south of France after their life savings are stolen. Whether or not that idea sounds crazy, the execution is a little lazy. It’s the sort of film that actually plays the Clash version of “I Fought the Law” when the characters are in the process of committing a crime.
The crime in question is a diamond heist. Actually, it becomes a diamond heist and a kidnapping plot. In case that’s not enough jail time for your golden years, why not add some neighbors (Tuppence Middleton and Timothy Spall) who bring a gun to the party? Our foursome of late-life felons crashes the wedding of a corporate raider and his trophy fiancée. Their target is to steal and sell a diamond necklace to make up for their lost pensions.
The silliness of the plot (and some of the details – like Britons performing over-the-top Texas twangs) can be forgiven. “The Love Punch”takes inspiration from an honorable line of silly films, starting with screwball comedies of the thirties and running through “The Pink Panther.”
That would make Thompson Katherine Hepburn and turn Brosnan into Cary Grant (an actor once considered a model for James Bond, come to think of it). The pair show off good chemistry, and they lift the generally spotty material at times.
Hopkins is making a living on these sorts of movies. His last film, 2008’s “Last chance Harvey,” was an unfashionably understated romantic drama starring Thompson and Dustin Hoffman. I admire the instincts – an attraction to older styles and stars, the desire to do something simple. Just when it seems like unadventurous filmmaking, he does something visually that I like, such as using the full width of the screen for a simple shot on a patio.
Still, there are not enough of these nice touches here to make “The Love Punch” work overall. That’s the real crime.