A Screwball Romantic “Love Punch” Heist
By Skip Sheffield
“The Love Punch” is a screwball romantic comedy heist caper for an older audience. The film, written and directed by Joel Hopkins, pairs the wonderful Emma Thompson with handsome, urbane Pierce Brosnan as a divorced but civil older couple who face bankruptcy on the eve of retirement.
Richard (Brosnan) is president of a London company called Culco. One morning arriving at work Richard encounters his entire staff outside the building and a notice of foreclosure on the door.
Richard assures the staff everything will be all right, but when he checks his retirement account, his balance is gone. Richard learns his business has been bought out by a French company called Lexon, which has looted the assets. Richard’s computer-savvy son hacks into Lexon’s site and discovers it is run by a man named Vincent Kruger (Laurent LaFitte). To add insult to injury, Kruger has just paid $10 million for a large diamond at a Sotheby’s auction. Kruger intends to present the diamond to his young, beautiful fiancée Sophie (Tuppence Middleton) as a wedding present.
No doubt inspired by “To Catch a Thief” and particularly “Topkapi,” Hopkins has given Richard and his wife Kate (Thompson) motive to cook up a heist scheme: steal the diamond, sell it and use the proceeds to reinstate the accounts of his former employees.
So begins a madcap misadventure as the amateur thieves first go to Paris and confront Vincent Kruger.
“You bought my company and ran it into the ground,” Richard sputters. “You stole our money and we want it back!”
Kruger admits that what he did was not ethical but he smugly adds it was completely legal. He has the couple bodily thrown out of the building.
Back in England the couple’s best friends and neighbors Jerry (Timothy Spall) and Penelope (Celia Imrie) become concerned and decide to come to Paris to help out their friends.
Timothy Spall is a dead-on comic actor and his deadpan Jerry is a delight. It seems Jerry has been everywhere and done everything unbeknownst to his wife, and he has a body full of hardware to prove it.
The actual caper takes place in beautiful Nice, France as the four inept desperadoes blunder their way to their goal.
There is a sentimental romantic core to all the shenanigans that you may or may not believe. I do not, but I do appreciate a quartet of British pros going through their paces. Pierce Brosnan is the closest thing we have to Cary Grant. Emma Thompson, well, she can do just about anything.