Born Romantic (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner13/03/2001

Four out of five stars
Running time: 100 minutes

Light-hearted, feel-good romantic comedy with a superb soundtrack and an excellent ensemble cast.

Writer / director David Kane’s last film was the similarly-themed This Year’s Love (also about six characters looking for love in London), and he has chosen to repeat the largely winning formula for his second film, Born Romantic.

This time round, all the characters have at least two things in common: they all frequent the same salsa club (El Corazon, meaning ‘The Heart’ – spot the symbolism) for one reason or another, and they all take regular taxi-rides with the same wordly-wise taxi driver (Adrian Lester).

The characters include Frankie (Craig Ferguson), a lounge-music obsessive who falls for frosty picture-restorer Eleanor (Olivia Williams); Eddie (Jimi Mistry), an ineffectual thief who shelters in the salsa club after escaping a bungled mugging and falls for Jocelyn (Catherine McCormack), a hypochondriac who looks after people’s graves; and Fergus (David Morrissey), a Scouser who’s come to London to find the girl he jilted eight years previously (Jane Horrocks).

That the film works as well as it does is largely thanks to the excellent cast – as well as the principal characters (all superbly played), there are also a number of decent cameos by familiar faces such as Kenneth Cranham (as Eddie’s Alzheimers-afflicted Dad), Jessica Stevenson (from TV’s Spaced) and rising British star Paddy Consadine (brilliant in A Room For Romeo Brass and soon to be seen in The Last Resort).

By far the best of these, however, are Smack the Pony’s Sally Phillips (whose scene involving her mobile phone is likely to raise audience cheers), and John Thompson and Ian Hart as two other minicab drivers who spend the whole film discussing women and relationships from the same two seats in the minicab café. (Best line: Hart recommends that Thompson read a book called The Selfish Gene, then says "I’d lend you my copy, but…it’s mine".)

If some of the coincidences and set-ups seem contrived, then this is more than compensated for by the film’s quirkier moments, from the absurd (Ferguson’s sinking house, meaning that objects keep sliding off tables etc), to the downright hilarious, such as Morissey’s scene that illustrates the perils of mixing a Bloody Mary while naked!

The salsa club and Ferguson’s lounge obsession also ensure plenty of crowd-pleasing singing-and-dancing moments, including the sweetest, least mawkish ‘serenade’ scene to grace a romantic comedy in Quite Some Time.

Two other points stand out: the superb soundtrack, which piles on the expected salsa and lounge tracks but also spills out into some subtle background music that echoes the Taxi Driver score in the taxi scenes; and the gorgeous photography by Robert Alazraki that manages to make London look every bit as glamorous as the countless shots of the New York skyline familiar from American comedies.

In short, then, this is well worth seeing. A great cast, a terrific soundtrack, some decent laughs and a couple of genuinely sweet romantic scenes – and not only that but it’s British too, dammit!

Forgettable, perhaps, but a crowd-pleasing homegrown Friday night date movie nonetheless. Recommended.

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Content updated: 01/11/2014 08:55

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