Patrick Dane writes for Bleeding Cool
I sometimes find it hard to gauge a director’s craftsmanship and aesthetic because the writing and thrust of the story are standing in the forefront. Had that happened with Gambit, I might be here to tell you that we have another example of the Coen Bros. mastery of cinema.
But, sadly, it didn’t.
Despite this screenplay not being the strongest work by the Coen Brothers by a long stretch, the script for Gambit is still a cut above most. It is most recognisable as their work by many of their motifs – the ‘little’ man trying to make it rich with comedic consequences; an odd but wise old mentor; slapstick comedy.There’s also a lot of their snappy dialogue.
It’s just unfortunate that director Michael Hoffman doesn’t really know how to bring it all together.
Gambit certainly has its moments and way more than a handful of laughs, but it never seems to hold any weight. The film looks the same as any churned out rom-com, and displays no real vision or style.
It’s a shame that this script got such a flat rendition, but also a little surprising because Hoffman has shown himself to be a capable director previously, and most certainly with The Last Station.
Colin Firth does try his best to hold the film together. His character is tragically English, the comedic embodiment of British reservedness, with most of the comedy coming from the juxtaposition of his complete ineptitude and keen self confidence.
The rest of its actors don’t seem to be operating to their full capability. Alan Rickman turns up to be Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci is fun but forgettable as a Germanic art curator, and Cameron Diaz is drifts between just doing the job and being actually annoying as an exuberant Texan.
Lots of the comedy in Gambit works, no small thanks to Firth, but because the film is as light as a feather it will just blow away and you’ll be hard pressed to remember it for long at all.