FOR LOVE OR MONEY
Directed by: Mark Murphy
Starring: Robert Kazinsky, Samantha Barks, Rachel-Hurd Wood, Ed Speleers, Tony Way
Ever since school, Mark has had a crush on Connie, although she never gave him the time of day. When they meet each other again at a funeral, it’s the same old story until Connie finds out that Mark is about to become very rich by selling his small company for twenty million pounds. Connie and her friend Johnny conspire to have Connie be wooed by Mark, marry him then make him divorce her, and take half his money. However, Mark finds out about their plan, and instead of ditching her, decides to take his own form of revenge…
FOR LOVE OR MONEY takes the Richard Curtis style British Rom-Com, gives it a papercut and then soothes it with lemon juice. This is not a film in which the goofy nice guy is guaranteed a happy ending. If I were to pitch this film, I'd say it was Notting Hill mixed with Men Behaving Badly, sifted through the gaze of the Farrelly Brothers circa Kingpin.
Set in London, this acerbic comedy mixes relationship drama with some great comedy, bringing a light touch to a script which at times delves into some dark places.
When Mark (Kazinsky) discovers that his fiance Connie (Barks) is conspiring with an old school "friend" to con him out of millions of pounds, he starts his revenge by pulling little pranks on her. At first it's relatively harmless but the relentlessness of it can be an uncomfortable viewing experience. The film's script has to walk a very precarious tightrope in order to keep you sympathizing with either of its protagonists.
The worst comes when Mark takes Connie to choose her wedding dress. What should be a happy day for her is totally wrecked by Mark's involvement and ends on the most uncomfortable of notes. Only the fact that the scene acts as a parody of Pretty Woman saves it. By the end of the scene, you'll be asking surely she knows now that Mark is aware of her schemes??
You are left with two people who are too bloody-minded to fully appreciate their situation. Connie puts up with the situation she finds herself in because she has her mind set on the millions she'll eventually get in the divorce settlement (although she still has to get married first), while Mark see's the fact that she's sticking around as validating his vengeance.
When Mark manages to rope in Connie's ex best friend, Kendra, to help execute his vengeance, he finally has someone to stand up to him and confront him about what he's doing. It's all funny vengeance to begin with but the longer it goes on…what's the end-game?
Lucky for the audience, this bitter relationship is surrounded with colourful characters, such as Tim, Mark's flatmate, and Johnny, the catalyst to Mark and Connie's situation. There's a great scene when Johnny fake-consoles someone who's just been sacked at his company, which tells you everything you need to know about the guy. Tim meanwhile would definitely not be out of place in Men Behaving Badly.
There are also some great side characters, such as Connie's whole family, and the atheist priest who presides over both the opening funeral and climactic wedding service. Best of all though is the weird hitchhiker they pick up on the way to their camping holiday. At first Mark and Kendra pick him up just to annoy Connie but soon come to regret their decision. The bit where he asks about the dog will have you spitting out your tea.
FOR LOVE OR MONEY takes the framework of the traditional British rom-com and replaces the genteel comedy with something much more raw and caustic at heart. You'll find your allegience to the main characters switching quite often but by the end of the film you'll be rooting for both.