Mortdecai – A Film Review

Johnny Depp is back on our cinema screens and this time round he’s a screwball and an aristocrat. This time, he’s Mortdecai.

The theatrical poster shows a simple but posh scene. Depp’s pose and clothes indicate that this is a film about a ‘toff’ (a British slang word which refers to a rich person from the upper classes of society in a somewhat demeaning manner) and with Gwyneth Paltrow in the background (both literally and figuratively) it promises to be good. But the main idea I get from the whole setting is that this is going to be a farce.

Lord Charles Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) is a bit of a rogue but he has class and an elegant home, as well as a beautiful wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) who is always one step ahead of him. He has also run out of money and is sporting a new moustache, both of which annoy his wife intensely.

Enter his old pal Inspector Martland (Ewan McGregor) of the MI5, with a proposition. Since he is an art connoisseur who is corrupt enough not to be suspected, Mortdecai must find a stolen painting which contains a secret worthy of a terrorist’s trouble.

This is Depp’s second collaboration with director David Koepp, who does a good job of pacing the film as fast as the chase. Meanwhile, the first scene plunges the viewer straight into Mortdecai’s lifestyle, including the shady characters who surround him and with a voice-over by Charlie himself, giving the impression that he is retelling the tale.

Changes in scene are well-executed and I love how the story flicks from one place to the next with a fly-through. White capital letters in the same font as that of the Hollywood sign show up as the scenes ‘land’ in London and Los Angeles.

The acting is great all round and it is interesting to see Paul Bettany as Jock the man-servant in such a humorous role, quite unlike his usual characters. The costume designer must have had a heavenly time with Paltrow, decking her out to make hearts thump. Meanwhile, Depp is well-dressed in the stereotypical waist-coated suit so popular with English gentlemen.

This is action comedy but it also has the attributes to make it a traditional comedy. There are slapstick moments aplenty, a typical loyal-servant-to-foolish-master relationship between Jock and Mortdecai, as well as a rivalry between Charlie and the Inspector who both vie for Johanna’s affections. It is a plot that is funnier than it is original with unpredictable jokes galore. In fact, I would say that this is about a better-looking and more charming Johnny English. My verdict is that this is definitely worth the watch and truly, seeing Depp appearing ‘almost’ normal is a treat in itself.

Mortdecai is a KRS release and will be shown in local cinemas.