Gambit (12A) **

Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth as Harry and PJ.
Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth as Harry and PJ.
Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov, Adrian McLoughlin as Joseph Stalin, Dermot Crowley as Lazat Kaganovich, Paul Chahidi as Nikolai Bulganin, Paul Whitehouse as Anastas Mikoyan and Simon Russell Beale as Lavrentiy Beria.

Cinema and TRAILER: The Death Of Stalin - cast and director interview

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Screenwriters Joel and Ethan Coen have Oscars on the mantelpiece for Fargo and No Country For Old Men, and leading man Colin Firth deservedly collected a golden statuette for his exemplary work in The King’s Speech.

With so much talent in front of and behind the camera, what could possibly go wrong? Everything, it seems, because Hoffman’s reworking is an unmitigated mess.

Mild-mannered art curator Harry Deane (Firth) grows tired of the constant bullying of his obscenely wealthy boss, Lord Lionel Shabandar (Alan Rickman).

So he concocts an elaborate swindle to teach his employer a lesson.

W ith the help of loyal friend and forger The Major (Courtenay), Harry travels to Texas to befriend rodeo queen PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz) and her tobacco-spittin’ grandma (Cloris Leachman).

Harry asks the blonde beauty to pose as the owner of a priceless Monet called Haystacks At Dusk, which Shabandar is desperate to acquire as a companion canvas to the other Haystacks in his private collection.

We laugh out of pity and embarrassment at the script.