Running Time: 90 minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Country: Germany, United Kingdom
When the mysterious Miranda walks into a suburban Yorkshire library looking 'like a hair advert', it is love at first sight for romantic, Elvis-quiffed librarian Frank. After a passionate ten-day relationship, Miranda disappears, and the besotted Frank follows a trail leading to London, where he discovers that Miranda is a con artist who, under the guidance of her mentor Christian, is trying to seduce sadomasochistic businessman Nailor into giving away his money for nothing. With the help of his Bruce Lee-obsessed friend Rod (Julian Rhind-Tutt), Frank lends Miranda a hand, while wondering whether he can ever trust her again.
Or, to cite Frank's own summary of his adventures in the new British film 'Miranda': 'Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy helps girl nick five million pounds from pervert.' Unfortunately his next words – 'It just didn't feel right' – prove an equally accurate description. The characters are cartoonish, the romance is hokey, the confidence scam is thrill-free, and the film's ambitious pastiche of different American genres never quite gets off the ground. Yet what rescues this film is its exuberant, infectiously naïve charm, its excellent cast, fantastically lurid sets and décor, and some very funny episodes. Frank's improvised love ballad ('Miranda! You got eyes like a panda! If you were a plane I'd land ya!'), Rod's blow-by-blow commentary on a martial arts film, a confused encounter with an officious receptionist, a discussion of the TV news girl's sexual merits compared to those of the weather girl ('Serious or happy?') – these are priceless moments which compensate for the overall lack of coherence.
Christina Ricci offers a suitably blank canvas on which everyone paints their own fantasy – although you get the feeling that Miranda's enigmatic quality ultimately rests not so much in a careful concealment of character as in a complete lack of one. Similarly John Hurt has little to work with as Christian, but his craggy hangdog expression lends gravitas to any part. John Simm brings his usual charisma (and a fine singing voice) to the nerdish Frank, even if his Yorkshire accent tends to drift in and out from one scene to the next. Kyle Maclachlan, who in 'Blue Velvet' played a young innocent peeking into a world of corrupt perversion, is on the other side of the closet door in this film as the unpredictable, randy fetishist Nailor. And Julian Rhind-Tutt gets to steal the show as lovable sidekick Rod – except that in this truly feel-good script by Rob Young, everyone is lovable, even creepy Nailor.
Despite all its shortcomings, a great time was clearly had by everyone making this film, and you might just find that it is catching.
It's Got: Real charm, eccentric humour, and impressive visual parodies of film noir.
It Needs: More coherence, better developed characters, a more involving crime caper.
A Yorkshire nerd in love with an American femme fatale, an English film in love with American genres. The result is a romantic mystery that is neither very romantic nor very mysterious, but its quirky innocence may well still leave you smiling.