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ChickLit (DQ)

4/10

Stars: Christian McKay, Caroline Catz, Dakota Blue Richards, Miles Jupp, David Troughton, Tom Palmer, Eileen Atkins, John Hurt, James Wilby, Niamh Cusack, Cathy Tyson

Director: Tony Britten

It's strange that this comedy is weak and rather retro, as it's strongly cast and has a few very good bons mots. But it also has too many serious patches, and too much time is devoted to a wishy-washy romance between Richards and Palmer, neither of whom is very good.

Naively handled, the story gets its mojo from the current craze for 'mummy porn' after the trail blazed by Fifty Shades of Grey. Four domino-playing pub customers, led by David Rose (McKay, whose voice still brings back echoes of Orson Welles), aware that their beloved local needs 300,000 to avoid developers turning it into flats, hit on the idea of writing just such a book to raise the money.

As each slaves away on his section of the book, the out-of-work actress sister (Richards) of McKay's literary wife (Catz) is roped in as the 'author' of Love Let Her, as the opus is called. She charms two agents (Atkins, Hurt) and the book looks set to make an incendiary debut and an even more incendiary film.

Everything then rushes into an ending that's much too pat, almost as if the filmmakers had run out of cash.

There are, however, some nice incidentals. I liked the idea of the local Women's Institute booking a talk entitled 'How to avoid rope burns in bondage situations' and Atkins' pithy comment that 'answering emails is considered a sign of weakness'.

Former star Wilby also pops in as a gay bookseller with a keen eye for the good and bad. 'Hmm,' he says 'Nick Clegg - My Life in Politics. We'll take one - you never know.'

David Quinlan

UK 2015. UK Distributor: Coach House Films. Colour (unspecified).
97 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 31 Aug 2016