In 2004, esteemed directing pair the Coen Brothers wrote and directed The Ladykillers, a crime-comedy starring an actor known best for his dramatic work (at least in recent years), remade from a well-liked but not particularly momentous mid-20th Century film. It was… okay. Kind of funny, highly wacky, a little uneven, largely unsubstantial. Not quite their next The Big Lebowski. But clearly, they had fun working within these parameters, as they’re returning to the field with Gambit.
Derived from a 1966 crime comedy, the Coens’ Gambit stars Colin Firth in a screwball turn as a hapless shlub of an art curator whose boss (a maniacal Alan Rickman) is the bane of his existence. Firth teams up with a Texan accented Cameron Diaz to pull one over on Rickman’s insolent millionaire character via an elaborate ol’-switcheroo involving a priceless painting. From the looks of the trailer, the movie is even zanier than the premise would suggest.
It’s interesting that the Coens would choose to return to a project so readily comparable to their ’04 not-quite-revered Ladykillers. Following a string of critically acclaimed dramatic masterpieces (No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man, True Grit), the pair stands at an all-time high in creative reputability. They did sign on to write Gambit (Michael Hoffman is directing) back in ’03, perhaps in the interest of funding their own projects, so that alone could explain the choice. But maybe these two geniuses — the men whose dark, complicated minds brought us the desperation of Fargo, the haunting stillness of No Country, and the moving devotion of True Grit — just really think these wacky, zany, screwball stories like Ladykillers and Gambit are genuinely hilarious. That’s the explanation I prefer.
[Photo Credit: CBS Films]