2008 Certificate: 15


Every uptight Brit's inability to deal with l'amour is deliciously dissected in this witty romantic drama from the pen of Catherine Tate writer Aschlin Ditta. Hugh Bonneville plays a slobbish hack who reluctantly enters couples counselling with his longstanding girlfriend (Victoria Hamilton) when she shockingly rejects his marriage proposal. Eric Cantona enjoys himself as a pretentious French film director offering lessons in love.


  • Jackie Oudney


  • Hugh Bonneville

  • Victoria Hamilton

  • Douglas Henshall

  • Eric Cantona

  • Jean Dell


Ten years after they drunkenly got together on Brighton beach thirty-something hack Jed (Bonneville) pops the question to girlfriend Cheryl (Hamilton) on London's Waterloo Bridge.

She says no.

The fall-out from this emotional bombshell provides the story threads for this sweet love story from Fast Show and Catherine Tate writer Aschlin Ditta and first-time director Jackie Oudney.

Jed is an amusing slob who just a bit too old to be a lad. Top of his list of pet hates is the fictional French film director Thierry Grimandi, played by Eric Cantona in full cod-philosophical "when the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea" mode.

Because he's got to interview him for a film magazine, Jed is obliged to watch the auteur d'amour's back catalogue, an experience that turns a casual dislike of the French into a bitter hatred.

So it's not encouraging when his and Cheryl's relationship counsellor turns out to be - yes, you guessed it - of the Gallic variety.

Support comes from Douglas Henshall and Anne Marie-Duff as the apparently perfect mee-jah couple against whom Chery and Jed must be measured...and found wanting.

This is a rich, beautifully written exploration of romantic self-delusion. The playing - particularly Bonneville - is assured and the dialogue constantly fires off cracking one-liners - "racism is born out of ignorance, xenophobia out of knowledge".

There's a gentle mockery of French cinema's romantic obsession - the opening scene, a pastiche of a thousand black and white Gallic dramas - is beautifully constructed and even includes a wry swipe at the over-use of the close-up.

With Richard Curtis firmly run around after The Boat The Rocked, there's a gaping hole for literate, witty homegrown romantic dramas. Oudney and Ditta fill it perfectly.