Gambit Review

Film Still
  • Gambit film still


The Coen brothers wrote it. An Oscar-winner stars in it. So how is it that Gambit could be such a cataclysmic train-wreck? LWLies investigates.

The following transcript is a telephone conversation between Oscar-winning British actor Colin Firth and his (then) agent, Ian Hastings.


[Ringing sound]

Colin Firth: Yeeeello?

Ian Hastings: Woi oi!

Firth: Ian, how are you old stick?

Hastings: Ticking over, ticking over. What's the haps your end?

Firth: Well, you know… Things have calmed down a bit now. People have finally stopped asking about the blasted Oscar. Anyone who does, I just tell them I now use it to tenderise steak. I don't really.

Hastings: Listen, Col-Fire, this is going to have to be a quickie. I've got the kids in the back of the Jag and I'm trying to navigate the Dartford Tunnel on two hours sleep and half a bottle of expired Advocaat. You know you said you were looking for something that was a little off-the-reservation, something where you could prove that there was more to your repertoire than cuddly blue blood yahoos and vacillating Don Juans who come good in the end? A range-expander.

Firth: I'm listening…

Hastings: Well, you're not going to believe this, but I've got three words for you: The. Coen. Brothers.


Firth: [casually hyperventilating] You've got me into […] a blimin' Coen brothers film? Ian, how quickly can you get here and do the seats in that Jag recline?

Hastings: Hold on, hold on. There are a couple of [mumbles] minor caveats.

Firth: Caveats? What caveats? … What actually is a caveat?

Hastings: Well, the Coens have written this film called Gambit.

Firth: Gambit? What is that? Isn't that what they put into kettles to stop them from exploding?

Hastings: No, no. It's a caper. Did you ever see the Pink Panther films with Peter Sellers?

Firth: Yes, yes! I loved those. Father used to screen them to us in the summer house. "You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"

Hastings: The very same. Well, they've written a film which a bit like an homage to those. It's actually a remake of a Ronald Neame film from '66 with Michael Caine. You'll be playing Michael Caine! But here's the catch.

Firth: Yes?

Hastings: The Coens aren't actually directing it.

Firth: Why not?

Hastings: I think this is just a writing gig for them. The official line is that Joel is having a new patio installed and he's quite keen to oversee that.

Firth: Understandable. Our contractor gave us the very devil of a time when we...[inaudible]

Hastings: It's all happening at the same time the shoot's scheduled and Ethan refuses to fly solo. Childhood trauma. You know how it is.

Firth: Ahh... So who is directing it then?

Hastings: Well, that doesn't really matter. When you've got a script by the Coen brothers, you can basically get your second lighting assistant to direct and you're guaranteed gold.

Firth: So there's no director attached yet?

Hastings: Well... In a sense. We've got this guy called Michael Hoffman.

Firth: Is he good?

Hastings: He's dynamite. He's double dynamite. He's a fist full of dynamite. He's dyn-

[cutting in]

Firth: What's he done?

Hastings:  One Fine Day.

Firth: Sold!

Hastings: Okay, you're going to play a svelte art swindler who's trying to do one over on his revolting boss. Just a few more details and we'll get this sucker locked down.

Firth: Shoot.

Hastings: Are you okay with dropping your trousers while trying to climb down the side of the Savoy and holding a Ming vase?

Firth: Hells yes.

Hastings: Good, good. Are you okay with pratfalls? Falling on the floor, farting, funny faces, getting hit in the face, stuff like that?

Firth: I don't see why not? Could be a giggle.

Hastings: Okay, last one, are you happy to be in a film with...fond ethnic stereotypes?

Firth: Sure. As long as it's tastefully done.

Hastings: Do you really need to ask? Col, this is my neck on the line here. I would never put you in anything which wasn't 100 per cent down the line.

Firth: Alright. Who else is in it?

Hastings: So far Rickman and Diaz are a lock.

Firth: How delightful. What do they play?

Hastings: Well Diaz is a rowdy American good-time gal… champion rodeo rider it says 'ere. She's roped in to your ruse. Rickman is the shitbag boss. Textbook stuff really.

Firth: This sounds like it could be a winner. A classy comedy caper set in the art world. What could go wrong?

Hastings: Exac-

[Sudden sound of loud clanging and screaming as Hastings swerves off the road and into the awnings of a fancy dress shop. He is survived by his two daughters and his loving wife, Pat.]

Firth: Hello? Hello?... Ian, old darling, I just have a few queries about my per diem…

[Tape ends]

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