Insistently eccentric and predictably coincidental, "Born Romantic" is one of those multi-character romantic carousels the British like to construct around any stray group of incredibly talented actors ("Wonderland" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral" being two examples).
The hope, usually, is that the cast will carry the day. Sometimes it does. But while "Born Romantic" features three of the most talented young British actresses around--Jane Horrocks, Catherine McCormack and Olivia Williams--one can't fend off the feeling that we've been here before, and with some regularity.
"Born Romantic" even has that increasingly standard-issue character, the ubiquitous/mysterious black man--in this case, Jimmy (Adrian Lester), who is apparently the last cabdriver in London, because it's always him ferrying the rest of the would-be lovers around in their pursuit of romance. Jimmy has a strong sense of loyalty. "What she doesn't know won't hurt her," says Horrocks' Mo, trying to bring the faithful Jimmy home to her place. "It'll hurt me," says Jimmy, proving that even the noblest virtues can be torpedoed by predictable dialogue. Director David Kane's writer--David Kane--has given him a toy with lots of moving parts, too many to coordinate with any grace. The film's ostensible salsa theme--the heart of any ad campaign, we're confident--gets overrun by the intersecting subplots, characters and infatuations: Frankie (Craig Ferguson, of "The Drew Carey Show"), a Rat Pack aficionado who seems destined to lose out in his wooing of the guarded Eleanor (Williams, of "Rushmore"); Eddie the thief (Jimi Mistry, "East Is East"), who's taken to chloroforming his victims and is engaged in a suitably weird courtship with the introverted grave tender, Jocelyn (McCormack, "Shadow of the Vampire"). Then there's Fergus (David Morrissey, "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"), who after eight years has decided that the woman he virtually left at the altar, Mo (Horrocks, "Little Voice"), is the one he shouldn't have left behind. She has other ideas.
So should you. Although "Born Romantic" is sweetly intentioned and staunchly on the side of love, it meanders long to enough to alienate whatever affection it otherwise earns.
MPAA rating: R for language and sexuality.
Craig Ferguson: Frankie
David Morrissey: Fergus
Jimi Mistry: Eddie
Jane Horrocks: Mo
Catherine McCormack: Jocelyn
Adrian Lester: Jimmy
Olivia Williams: Eleanor
BBC Films and Harvest Pictures present a Kismet Film Company production, released by United Artists. Writer-director David Kane. Producer Michele Camarda. Executive producers David M. Thompson, Alistair MacLean-Clark, Melvyn Singer. Cinematographer Robert Alazraki. Editor Michael Parker. Costume designer Jill Taylor. Music Simon Boswell. Production designer Sarah Greenwood. Art director Alison Harvey. Set decorator Katie Spencer. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.
Exclusively at the AMC Century 14, Century City Shopping Center, (310) 553-8900.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun