Solitaire for 2 (1995)


UK. 1995.


Director/Screenplay – Gary Sinyor, Producers – Gary Sinyor & Richard Holmes, Photography – Henry Braham, Music – David Hughes & John Murphy, Special Effects – Any Effects, Production Design – Carmel Collins. Production Company – Cavalier Features/Solitaire Productions LLC


Mark Frankel (Daniel Becker), Amanda Pays (Katie Burrell), Roshan Seth (Sandip), Jason Isaacs (Harry), Maryam d’Abo (Caroline), Helen Lederer (Female Cop), Neil Mullarkey (Harris), Lisa Walker (Lucy)


Daniel Becker, a management consultant on body language, has his girlfriend walk out on him. His friends believe this is because he never takes relationships seriously. At the same time, Daniel keeps bumping into palaeontologist Katie Burrell. She is thrown out of her dating agency because she keeps hitting the men she goes out with. He becomes intrigued by her and she eventually agrees to go out with him. He finds her habit of finishing his sentences disconcerting, until she confesses that she had a curse placed on her that leaves her with the ability to read minds and is perpetually hitting her other dates after reading the lustful intentions on their minds. As both try to begin a relationship, her ESP and his playful unseriousness each cause problems for the other.

If Solitaire for 2 had been a Hollywood film and had a little more in the way of nonce, one could easily see it as a Sandra Bullock or a Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy. As it is however, it is infuriatingly insipid. For one, it is British-made and the British have never had a huge success when it comes to doing the light and bubbly Hollywood-styled romantic comedy.

Solitaire for 2 wants to be a romantic comedy with an effervescent screwball dizziness but the humour sits beneath the surface and frustratingly refuses to emerge. Instead the film runs around with a frothy busyness that only amounts to a thorough banality. It taps into the romantic comedy fantasy of male consciousness rising that inspired a number of other films of the 1990s – Dating the Enemy (1996) and What Women Want (2000), both of which conduct the theme far more imaginatively than this does. The actual details and explanation for the curse are brushed aside with an astonishing vagueness.

Mark Frankel, the James Bond-alike from the tv series Fortune Hunter (1994), at least projects a dashing handsomeness in his part. (Unfortunately for Frankel, he was killed in a motorcycle accident the following year at the age of only 34, cutting short a promising career). Amanda Pays, a British actress that one always thought should have had a bigger profile and be doing the sort of roles that Elizabeth Hurley does these days, is okay opposite him.

Director Gary Sinyor had previously made the modestly acclaimed Leon the Pig Farmer (1992). He has gone onto a string of other comedies and romcoms with the likes of Stiff Upper Lips (1998), The Bachelor (1999), Bob the Butler (2005), In Your Dreams (2008) and United We Fall (2014), although none of these enter into genre material.

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