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Down With Love (2003)

The ultimate catch has met his match

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 101 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

A bit like last year’s ‘Far From Heaven’, ‘Down With Love’ whisks us back to the reputedly golden age of cinema, attempting to recreate film-making modes oft forgotten in these days of CGI, bullet-time and Lara sodding Croft.

But, where ‘Far From Heaven’ allowed Julianne Moore to weep her over-acting heart out in an admirable but nonetheless hard-going recreation of 50s melodrama, ‘Down With Love’ is substantially more fun. With a wink and a smile in the direction of Rock Hudson-Doris Day comedies like ‘Pillow Talk’, it goes for laughs every time. Admittedly, it doesn’t always hit the target – as a comedy alone it’s only so-so – but the retro device is more than enough to pull it head and shoulders above your average rom-com. And, for a reviewer STILL having nightmares about ‘The Wedding Planner’, that’s no bad thing.

It’s 1962, which in Movie Land means bright colours, women who walk with one arm permanently stuck in the air, and those fantastically fake backgrounds through the rear window of every car journey. ‘Down With Love’ gives us all of that and more, with Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger producing surprisingly comfortable performances into the bargain.

The story’s nothing special – Zellweger is a novelist who shoots to fame with her book teaching women to ditch love (hence the title) in favour of a lifetime of promiscuity and chocolate. McGregor is the smoothy journo who hatches a plan to trick her into falling for him (by pretending, strangely, to be a Clark Kent-type), and get himself a major scoop in the process. David Hyde Pierce also gets in on the act and, as in ‘Frasier’, steals all of his scenes as the magazine editor who’s not homosexual, honest.

It’s not exactly the funniest movie of the year, and the gimmick starts to wear thin after a while. The fairly simple story also suffers from a ridiculous end-twist which doesn’t work half as well as the writers obviously hoped. But ‘Down With Love’ deserves kudos for doing something different with a knackered genre, if not with its plot then at least with its approach.

It's Got: A great ‘Pink Panther’-style opening animation.

It Needs: Zellweger to either stop squinting or get herself a pair of glasses.


A one-joke film that manages to hold the interest for considerably longer than you’d probably expect. Not a great story, but extremely well made and nice to look at.