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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Disappointing Date

Review of Speed Dating from Day and Night in the Irish Independent, April 20

James Van Der Bexton (Hugh O'Conor) is the sensitive heir to a family fortune who is still depressed about his devastating break-up with his girlfriend (Flora Montgomery) three years after the event.

James unsuccessfully turns to speed dating to mend his broken heart, where he tends to scare the girls more than anything with his intensity and lame attempts at seduction.

A girl in his local pub soon catches his eye and he begins following her ("it's not stalking, it's research" goes the movie's blurb), in the course of which he's involved in an accident and develops amnesia.

The target of his affections then disappears and is presumed dead, and through a series of unfortunate coincidences, James becomes the chief suspect. With the help of an Australian nurse (Emma Choy), James tries to rediscover who he was before the accident, clear his name and maybe even find love.

As you can tell from that brief synopsis, debut director Tony Herbert dips his toes into a number of different genres with Speed Dating, but this does little more than destabilise the whole movie with its increasingly bizarre and incongruous shifts in tone.

What's more, the over-packed plot fails to hit the mark either as a thriller or a romantic comedy, and all too often tries to spice things up by injecting relentless bouts of self-conscious quirkiness into proceedings. Hence there are minor subplots revolving around James' oddball family (including Goth sister Nora Jane Noone), eccentric friends and an aggressive detective (played by a scenery-annihilating Don Wycherley).

O'Conor, forever etched in our memories for his extraordinary turn as the young Christy Brown in My Left Foot, is an appealing and charming lead - no easy feat considering how creepy his character is often called upon to behave. Newcomer Choy makes a sparkling debut, while Charlotte Bradley has a great cameo as James' sozzled aristocratic mother.

Speed Dating does have moments when it seems on the verge of providing some insight into the quest for love in modern Ireland. It's just a pity that, like a speed dater, it hastily skips over and flirts with so many different tones and styles, never settling on one long enough to really make a connection.
Rating 2/5
Declan Cashin


Flirty Something said...

Oh dear, was looking forward to this. Will opt for Curse of the Golden Flower instead

Michelle said...

I completely disagree with your review and its a long time since a film got such differing reviews, its a case of love it or hate it. I saw it and really enjoyed it and it got a great reaction from the audience particularly to Don Wycherley as the inept Detective.