Film Review: Gambit

Written by the Coen brothers and directed by Michael Hoffman, Gambit does entertain despite being a little lacklustre.

Tired of dealing with his abusive boss, art curator Harry Deane hatches a plot to con him into buying a fake Monet painting. To pull off his scheme, Harry requires the help of Texas rodeo queen PJ Puznowski…

A remake of the 1966 film starring Michael Caine, Michael Hoffman’s Gambit changes significant details of the plot and characters. What it retains is the premise of an elaborate rouse.  In this version, Harry Deane is determined to scam his boss; it is more about revenge than benefit.

Gambit is a crime caper with a dollop of comedy. The film pivots around the character of Deane, a bumbling art curator who faces ridicule from his awful boss. The film takes the time to construct Harry Deane’s character; painting him as someone who is intelligent yet awkward. It is because of this depiction throughout the film that the ending does not quite ring true. It is easy to see why the Coen brothers decided to conclude the film in such a way, but it does not correlate with what has come before.

Gambit harks back to the original in terms of style. This begins with the animated credit sequence which has a 1960s feel, and continues with styling in the film and choice of soundtrack. Feeding into this, the film accentuates a sense of Britishness with the locations and costumes.

Performances from the cast feed into the stereotypes that they play. Alan Rickman plays the caricature Lionel Shahbander with the villanous zeal audiences have come to expect from him. Cameron Diaz is suitably chipper as PJ Puznowski, while Colin Firth plays the type of character he became famous for.

There are certainly better crime capers, but Gambit is suitably enjoyable. It is just not a classic.