It feels needlessly churlish to lambast The Love Punch for its cinematic failings, akin to punching a defenceless kitten for its lack of gravitas. The Love Punch was never intended to be anything more than 90-something minutes of gentle humour, bearable romance, and unemotional emotion, wrapped up in a fluffy storyline as ridiculous as it is clichéd and sealed with a conclusion as predictable as it is inevitable.
Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan play Mr and Mrs Jones, a divorced couple fleeced of their retirement funds by a dastardly French hedge-funder. They decide to get their own back by following said banker to his wedding on the French Riviera and removing a priceless diamond from his possession. Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie tag along for the ride. Hilarity does not ensue, but tame one-liners and corny romantic clichés come trotting feebly behind.
Ground-breaking portrait of life in middle-age it may not be, but The Love Punch does have memorable moments. Pleasant mockery of the money-grabbing lifestyle abounds and Louise Bourgoin is enjoyable as the shallow, but doubting, fiancé of the melodramatic antagonist. There is even a semblance of chemistry between Thompson and Brosnan, although this is disappointingly stifled by the script’s lack of sophistication.
One could use The Love Punch as an illustration of modern film-making’s shortcomings. It has no recognisable intent, a distinct lack of emotional sophistication and, one suspects, the four major names involved were sold on the project principally because of its exotic filming locations. Yet the film has no pretensions to grandeur. This is The Love Punch‘s saving grace. It’s not trying to be anything spectacular, or moving, or even mildly thought-provoking. We as the audience know this, the director knows this, and the four august ‘national treasures’ it stars know this too, allowing them to preserve their well-earned dignity as they swan merrily about the Côte d’Azur.
As director Joel Hopkins opines, if cynicism is left at the door and one ‘just goes with it’, The Love Punch is enjoyable. Its failings melt away into irrelevance and one can relax with hour and a half of light, meaningless entertainment, safe in the knowledge that nobody is taking this film too seriously. And not one kitten has to be punched.