Fate throws together a cinematically mismatched pair; Cupid deftly aims his arrows; cute fun ensues.
Taking a breather from legal thrillers (Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders, 2004, etc.), Mortimer serves up a sweet love story. Twentysomething Lucy is bored. Her dad’s a namby-pamby Anglican bishop who preaches craven Christianity Lite, her mom’s a respectable lush, her boyfriend’s less than thrilling. She burns for a challenge. So Lucy volunteers for SCRAP, a sodality of Social Careers, Reformers and Praeceptors that enlists wide-eyed women to serve as guides, philosophers and friends to ex-cons fresh from the pokey. SCRAP is filled with daft and cheery liberals convinced that even society’s throat-slitters are merely misunderstood. Lucy is initially not so sanguine about her first assignment, Terry. More Artful Dodger than Jack the Ripper, he’s just a delinquent, if not juvenile. But Terry is easy on the eyes, and his prison reading habits (Dostoevsky and sundry Great Books) hint at hidden depths. Soon enough, his surliness fades in the face of Lucy’s sunshine, and she’s smitten by his not-so-rough-trade charm. Desperate to bond by penetrating the mysteries of his criminal mind, she asks, “Why do you steal?” When Terry replies, “Excitement,” well, it’s no more Ms. Nice Girl. Lucy begins a mini-career as a light-fingered burglar. His tentative macho threatened by her prowess, panicked Terry decides it’s his turn to reform her. Class-struggle humor, nifty slang and mild social commentary bolster the slight plot, as do nicely rendered tours both of London’s seedy demimonde and pricier real-estate plots.
A witty Brit bagatelle and a romantic comedy tailor-made for the multiplex.