Romantic comedies can be very hit-or-miss. Sometimes they can hit the landing and be surprisingly entertaining, other times not so much. In the case of For Love or Money, it feels like a bit of an oddity, having a lot of positive attributes in its favour, but also having a lot of problems that makes the whole experience very rough and scrappy to watch. Instead of being a conventional rom-com, director/co-writer Mark Murphy bills this as an “unromantic comedy” where a woman is attempting to marry a normal guy so that she can get his money, but once he finds out, he takes his revenge by making her life a living hell in the lead up to the wedding. Of course, as time goes on, the outer layers unravel and they both start to like each other more, which was something that was kind of expected from the start.
The edges around this film feel very rough due to some very pointless and obnoxious humour. Sometimes, you don’t feel like you’ve been given enough time to let things breathe in order to get any understanding of these characters because the film goes by so quickly and the laddish humour can get pretty grating after a while. Speaking of grating, Ed Speleers’ as the villainous character of the film was unbearably annoying and far too OTT for this kind of film, making us wish for some weather storm to arrive so that this guy gets hit with a bolt of lightning. Plus, there’s a new character that gets introduced who’s meant to be a former childhood friend of the main female protagonist, and she’s kind of a pointless addition in the grand scheme of things.
Not all of the humour is aggravating though as there were plenty of moments where the comedy was actually pretty good with the middle sequence that involves the male protagonist dishing out his revenge being a particular highlight, plus there were sequences towards the end that were kind of heartfelt and endearing. What makes this film shine, however, is the two central performances by both Robert Kazinsky and Samantha Barks, and Kazinsky does reasonably solid job as the likeable guy that is torn between revenge and love. But the real surprise standout is Samantha Barks, who instantly lights up the screen with her presence while also proving that she can tackle dramas as well as musicals.
Overall, For Love or Money is the perfect definition of a curate’s egg; it’s partly good, but it’s also partly bad as well. The humour can be very hit-or-miss and some of the characters range from superfluous to annoying, but there are some moments of wit and charm to be found. Not amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s also not a complete disaster either.
Dir: Mark Murphy
Scr: Mark Murphy, Sabrina Lapage
Cast: Robert Kazinsky, Samantha Barks, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Ed Speleers, Tony Way, Ivan Kaye, Anna Chancellor
Prd: Mark Murphy, Alan Latham, Eric Woollard-White
DOP: Joan Bordera
Music: Simone Vallecorsa
Run time: 95 mins
For Love or Money is available of Digital from 8th July 2019.