Stop the clocks. 2020 may have peaked already, thanks to Hugh Grant’s turn in The Gentlemen. Guy Ritchie’s crime caper is a roaring return to form for a director that forged his reputation by devising entertainingly far-fetched tales of the UK’s criminal underworld.
One of the USPs of Ritchie’s filmography is his penchant for inspired casting – think footballer-turned-cinema-hardman Vinnie Jones in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Or Alan Ford as the infinitely quotable Brick Top in Snatch. Grant has now joined that rogue’s gallery, ingeniously cast as the delightfully camp and oh-so-sleazy tabloid journalist Fletcher, who is trying to squeeze millions out of a drug kingpin played by Matthew McConaughey. Effectively playing the role of narrator, Grant is clearly having the time of his life playing against type. His career has undergone a resurgence not dissimilar to the one enjoyed by his aforementioned castmate in the early part of the last decade. Based on this evidence, long may it continue.
But this is far more than a one-man band. The Gentlemen is just a really fun movie, replete with a wonderfully eclectic cast and sharp dialogue that often had the audience laughing out loud. It’s a quintessentially British film so might not sell well across the Atlantic, but it’s nice to see Ritchie going back to doing what he does best.
His style is most certainly an acquired taste but, 20 years removed from the release of sophomore effort Snatch, this is proof that he remains of UK cinema’s most unique voices.