Gambit

This is a brief, light, comic story of art forgery and theft. It is humorous and easy entertainment. And then we discover that the screenplay was written by the Coen Brothers.

In 1967, Gambit was released starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. It was a frothy comedy caper of the period. Not the kind of film that would come to mind for a re-make. However, audiences who catch up with it will be pleased that they did. In fact, anyone who saw it on its first release will turn 60 next year! So one could say that there is an audience for a re-make.

This time the stars are Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz. Firth plays a rather more upper-class, bespectacled version of Michael Caine in his day. He is an art adviser, resentful of his rather lowly status and the treatment by his boss. He devises a scheme to swindle his boss out of one is for favourite Monet paintings. He is more than aided and abetted by an old military veteran, played with aplomb by Tom Courtney. We see them in Texas, looking for the granddaughter of a veteran who might or might not have acquired the Monet during World War II when it had been taken by Goerring.

Instead of a dancer, as Shirley MacLaine was in the original, Cameron Diaz is a rodeo expert and can tie up a calf within seconds, something very useful in a really unexpected way later in the film. The main twist is at the beginning of the film rather than at the end which makes it more entertaining.

While Colin Firth is expert at the uptight Englishman, Cameron Diaz is delightfully exuberant as the Texas cowgal. She is clearly enjoying herself in this kind of lively performance.

This is a soufflé of a movie, but fans of Colin Firth will admire his serious portrayal and his laughter at the end. Fans of Cameron Diaz will also enjoy her vivacious screen presence - Peter Malone, ACOFB

Starring Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, Tom Courteney, Cloris Leachman. Directed by Michael Hoffman. Rated PG (Mild coarse language, violence and sexual references). 89 minutes.

Gambit