For Love or Money, 2019.
Directed by Mark Murphy.
Starring Robert Kazinsky, Samantha Barks, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Ed Speleers, Anna Chancellor, Tony Way, Ivan Kaye and David Hargreaves.
A fairy tale romance takes an unexpected turn when Mark (Robert Kazinsky) discovers his beautiful bride-to-be, Connie (Samantha Barks), has actually been plotting against him.
For Love or Money is nothing that hasn’t been seen before. A self-proclaimed anti-romcom, the film details a fake relationship between Mark (Robert Kazinsky, EastEnders, True Blood) and Connie (Samantha Barks, Les Misérables), who sets out to fleece him of an impending windfall. As his childhood crush, Mark is only too happy to be duped by his shallow, dismissive girlfriend – but when her plot is revealed to him, Mark delights in giving her in a taste of her own – bitter – medicine.
Although this reads like a truly standard bill of fare, there are sparks in the screenplay, and among the cast, that keep interest ignited. Robert Kazinsky surfaces from a stint in Hollywood to bring genuine charm and flair to the role of the slightly pathetic but entertainingly droll Mark. Samantha Barks and Ed Speleers (Eragon, Outlander), as Johnny, are satisfyingly contemptible as the duo looking to milk Mark the cash cow, but successfully manage to avoid becoming too much. The sleaze is believable, even when Johnny is thrusting his crotch at Samantha’s face or Samantha is whining (cruelly) about having to have sex with Mark: they’re as despicable as each other.
There’s also room for Mark’s ex-flatmate Tim (Tony Way), channelling Spike from Notting Hill levels of grossness – although with a bit more about him – but a bit of a trickier, earnest role for Rachel Hurd-Wood as Kendra, the film’s moral beacon. But for every moral beacon, there’s an inappropriate, overly-sexed Anna Chancellor, up for a spot of role-playing with her husband (Ivan Kaye). So that should keep you entertained. These sorts of curveballs keep the film fresher than most of its type, as well as allowing the cast to have a bit of fun. It turns out Kazinsky is a pretty dab hand at physical comedy, and For Love or Money has fun with a couple of slapstick-type routines for him set to dramatic classical music like Prokofiev’s ‘Dance of the Knights’.
For Love or Money motors along, ticking most boxes for its genre, including timely changes of heart, comeuppances, comedy pets and a road trip. There’s also a very bleak priest, who doesn’t let a little thing like not believing in God get in the way of him performing his duties. Most importantly, the film and its cast don’t take themselves too seriously, allowing the light fare to unfold easily. It is what it is, and unapologetically so.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★