By Michael McNulty
From the minute Pierce Brosnan’s face appears in medium close up in the first scene and he utters the words “I’m sorry, truly, because I fucked up” it almost feels like he could be apologising to the viewer for what they are about to endure. This scene and the rest of Lessons in Love is as about as convincing as Pierce Brosnan was playing James Bond. It’s a mishmash of poorly written, averagely filmed, unconvincing scenes that fit together like mismatched puzzle pieces stuck together with sellotape.
Brosnan plays Richard, a professor of the Romantic poets at Cambridge University and as such is a boozer and a womanizer engaged in a relationship with one of his students, Kate (Jessica Alba), a gross male fantasy being played out on screen. Upon learning of her pregnancy and after a few contemplative rain soaked minutes Richard does the responsible thing, marries Kate and the two move to Los Angles into a glorious Californian villa. Kate then promptly leaves Richard for Brian, a younger man in finance.
Lessons in Love then descends into a series of ill-conceived rom-com trope as Richard battles to maintain a relationship with his son and ex-wife, his immigration status and budding love for Kate’s older step sister, Olivia (Salma Hayek).
Matthew Newman has crammed so much into this ninety-five minute film that you’re left with a rom-com, love drama, father, son relationship, revelation film with plot progression that feels forced and never focused. The characters are loathsome, Richard is supposed to be damaged goods (a result of his father), with a heart of gold. A charming, sexy, intellectual wild man, but only ever appears as a man who seems to be have been having a mid-life crisis for twenty years. His father, played by Malcolm McDowell, is a misogynist with some of the most offensive lines in the whole film. Salma Hayek’s struggles with Olivia, never really developing beyond another attractive woman with dreams of being a writer who has caught the wondering eye of Richard, and Kate is so one dimensional she may as well be wallpaper.
Sitting through this film is an excruciating experience, less a lesson in love, but more one in patience.
Lessons In Love is in cinemas September 25th.