During an interview at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival, Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan didn’t know their rom-com caper The Love Punch was going to be hitting theatres in the middle of a superhero smack down. The pair’s light-hearted tale of ripped-off-revenge (opening in select cities this weekend) didn’t have its release date nailed down at the time. But both actors knew that their breezy romp would appeal to people of a certain vintage not interested in men in tights and fire-breathing monsters.
“It’s perfect timing for this screwball comedy,” Thompson said presciently of the film. “I like when people can leave a movie feeling happy.”
The Love Punch finds Thompson (Kate) and Brosnan (Richard) as an amicably divorced couple who are forced to reunite after their retirement funds are stolen by a predatory French businessman (Laurent Lafitte). Faced with the prospect of spending their golden years destitute and alone, the pair join forces and head to the south of France to impersonate Texans and embark on a jewel heist from the man who robbed them. With the picturesque French Riviera as their backdrop, Kate and Richard find themselves inexplicably falling back in love.
“There are emblems in the story I could identify with,” Brosnan said smiling. “Being middle-aged, dealing with your own failures and successes, married life. So you dwell on that a little… then of course (the film) has its far-fetched hijinks. So there’s a lot of different colours… You have two people who are sad, and wondering, ‘How did we get here?’ And by the end, we have two people who are freshly minted and in love.”
Director Joel Hopkins (who worked with Thompson on Last Chance Harvey) wrote the film specifically for Thompson and Brosnan, with Timothy Spall (the Harry Potter series) and Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) as their partners in comedic crime.
“Joel’s up for making something that’s very uplifting. There aren’t a lot of filmmakers doing that,” Thompson said.
Between the laughs and the nice scenery, The Love Punch does ruminate on the passage of time, and that might prick older viewers ever so slightly. After all, Thompson and Brosnan are playing two people whose lives haven’t exactly gone according to plan. But during a 20-minute chat, the veteran actors were remarkably candid about their careers, with Thompson repeatedly praising Brosnan for avoiding the pitfalls of fame.
“Stardom can spoil people really badly,” she said of her co-star. “I’ve never been James Bond; I’ve never been a movie star in that sense. I’m a movie actor who is reasonably famous, but it’s a different thing.”
Thompson added: "I think that one of the things I appreciate most about him is he is completely and utterly free of any of that falderal. He’s someone so completely at ease and comfortable and everything is normal."
“Sometimes, you look around and you find yourself painted into a corner,” Brosnan said. “So I enjoy it all now. I don’t bother trying to rally against it. I go where the work takes me and hopefully it’s good work and it turns me on and makes me want to get out of bed at five o’clock in the morning. I don’t plot or scheme too much.”
“People sometimes ask, ‘How do you feel about your career?’” Thompson added. “And I think, ‘Career? I just go from one job to the next and hope that I’ll get another.’ Some people talk about building careers. That’s a curious idea,” she said.
"Just getting a job is a high point. It’s funny, you never really grow out of that feeling of, ‘Will I ever work again?’ You finish a job, and you think: ‘Maybe I won’t ever work again.’ I don’t know why."
The Love Punch Review
The recent spate of boomer rom-coms is no accident. One of the genius bean counters in Tinseltown realized Hollywood can’t survive on men-in-tights heroics; mom and pop need to be able to have a night out at the movies too. So what we get are films like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and At Middleton.
You can add The Love Punch to that mix.
The new dramedy from writer-director Joel Hopkins serves up light-hearted laughs as it follows a couple of divorced Brits (Kate and Richard, played by Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan) whose retirement savings are stolen by a greedy French businessman. The pair bury the hatchet long enough to track him down in the south of France and get their revenge. They are joined in the fun by two pals played by Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie.
With the sun-drenched French Riviera providing an inviting backdrop, Kate and Richard start to fall back in love in predictable fashion. But the actors manage to make us smile as they go to laughable extremes to pull off their jewel heist.
The jokes aren’t as funny as Neighbors, but if you take mom and dad, you might get dinner out afterwards.