Lessons in Love
Lessons in Love (US title Some Kind of Beautiful) is a rom-com that is somewhat lacking in “rom” and almost completely devoid of “com”. Pierce Brosnan plays Cambridge poetry professor Richard Haig, the emotionally stunted son of a rampant playboy (Malcolm McDowell), bred to believe that the only goal in life is to be as promiscuous as possible, for as long as possible. However, after impregnating one of his students (Jessica Alba), he flippantly decides to marry her, move to America and try raising a family. Matters become complicated when his wife’s sister (Salma Hayek) comes into their lives and the two begin to fall in love. The film is as clichéd as its synopsis suggests, although this could have been forgiven were it in any way entertaining.
The most lamentable aspect of Brosnan’s performance is that he’s so likeable; the audience wants him to do well at every turn, which makes his inability to do so all the more upsetting. As the protagonist, the entire film is built upon his character’s journey: his relationships, his desires, his thwarted ambitions, the inner turmoil that plagues him, his moments of elation and despair. So it is no surprise that the film loses all credibility when Brosnan shows he is unable to dig beneath his thin veneer of British charm. There are moments in the story where his character should be in absolute agony, when his whole life is crumbling around him, and the viewers find themselves pleading with him to show an ounce of emotional depth – to allow them to peek behind this thinly-crafted caricature and see something genuine. But Brosnan moves through it all with a stagnant British smile.
The film is supposed to be about the indomitable nature of love, and intends to explore the irony of a character who teaches romantic poetry for a living yet is incapable of forging a meaningful connection himself. The real irony, however, is rooted in the fact that this supposed romantic-comedy fails to portray any believable romantic relationships, not even between its key love interests. Hayek and Brosnan display less chemistry than a blank periodic table.
It should be mentioned that Hayek performs admirably, and even Brosnan has an inspired moment when giving a lecture on what relevance the Romantics have today. However, by this point, the situation is irredeemable. The film languidly builds to a finale – not so much the icing on the cake as the final nail in the coffin. A painfully clichéd ending leaves the viewers feeling sorry for everybody in the credits, but even more so for themselves.
Lessons in Love is released nationwide on 25th September 2015.
Watch the trailer for Lessons in Love here: