Ben Greene (played by Mike Binder) has moved to London to work as a comedy writer on a new British television series. He comes well credentialled, having just finished work on a highly successful American comedy. The new series is “Tedford Gate” and it stars the once-popular American actress Carly Matthews-Portland (by Mariel Hemingway). Carly has recently been re-discovered by a new European audience and she is capitalising on this with her starring role in this new UK series. Carly is also an old friend of Ben’s, but these days she’s married to Allen (by Colin Firth), the producer of the new show. Allen is the archetypal stiff-upper-lipped Englishman, evidenced by his lack of physical prowess and his total inability to demonstrate any kind of emotion. New to London, Ben finds it hard to adjust to his new lifestyle and Carly decides he needs romance in his life. She match-makes him with another television staffer, the delightfully French make-up artist Fiona Delgrazia (by Irene Jacob). Carly is amused and very pleased when her efforts result in Ben falling in love with Fiona, and she with him. As time passes, Carly observes their blossoming relationship but finds herself becoming fascinated by Ben – at the same time, straight-laced Allen is secretly yearning for Fiona. The entire situation comes to a head when Fiona gets some work in Italy, which leads Allen to question his life and where he wants to be. This has a straightforward solution, right? …..
This movie is quite tedious. The love quadrangle is mildly entertaining, but not super funny – it is just too twee for me. The styling is hideous … whoever styled Mariel Hemmingway’s outfits must have hated her – she is dowdy in every scene. At the other end of the style spectrum. Irene Jacob is gloriously chic and displays typically “easy” french classic style every time she appears, she looks wonderful and wears all her clothes with panache. All round, the performances are forced and bland, with one exception – the exquisite characterisation that Stephen Fry provides as Nigel Steele, the therapist. He is too “English” to mention he doesn’t offer marriage counselling, but way too uncomfortable to facilitate any effective sessions. Between his total awkwardness and Colin Firth’s Allen in full behavioural ignorance, these scenes are treasures. Other roles are played by Jack Dee and Christopher Lawford, but wait for television if you really need to see this one.
Made in 2001. Directed by Mike Binder.