Movie Review | Lessons in Love (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Freda Cooper 26.09.2015

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Lessons in Love (UK Rating: 15)

A romantic comedy about a professor specialising in the Romantics - poets, that is - and he specialises in them so much  that they have inspired his lifestyle, or so he says. That's the premise behind newly released romantic comedy from the director of What Happens in Vegas, called Lessons in Love - known as Teach Me Love, Some Kind of Beautiful and even How to Make Love Like an Englishman in other territories. If any of those sound contrived, that's because they all are.
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Cambridge professor Richard (Pierce Brosnan) has followed in his father's (Malcolm McDowell) footsteps in more ways than one. Not only does he lecture in English literature, he treats the University syllabus with contempt and has a Byronic attitude to his own personal life - just like his dear old dad. Unlike his father, he marries one of his students (Jessica Alba) and de-camps to America to start over as a husband and father. It involves a lecturing job at a decidedly inferior college, frequent run-ins with his feisty sister-in-law (Salma Hayek) and, ultimately, divorce... and that's just the start.

If only it were the end! The film's premise is filo pastry thin to begin with and, by the time it's run its course of over an hour and half, there's nothing left except a collection of holes. There are so many things wrong with it that it's hard to know where to start, but unlikeable characters, lumpy dialogue, and a plot that's simply all over the place should do the trick.

There is, however, something far more seriously at fault. It appears to have been made in a social vacuum, being completely devoid of any awareness of the on-going diversity debate, especially when it comes to women. In fact, it's no exaggeration to say that the film is crass, sexist, and its attitudes are so out of date that it appears to have time travelled to the 21st Century from the 1950s. While not exactly misogynistic, it comes perilously close at times. The main female characters all seem unable to function without a man to tell them what to do, and that even applies to sister-in-law, Olivia (the usually strong and independent Hayek), who, on the outside, is all fire and defiance, but underneath is just an old fashioned girl who needs a man lean on. It all makes for an uncomfortable, distasteful, and really rather unpleasant experience.

For something that is meant to be a "romcom," it most certainly missing the mark on both fronts. There's very little in the way of romance, apart from the Romantic poets that Brosnan keeps harping on about, and as for the comedy element? Well, surely that's a joke, right?

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Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

Lessons in Love has very little going for it, and will have even less going to see it. There is simply no reason to fork out for a cinema ticket for this when there are plenty of other, much better, films on show. The combination of a tired, contrived story, a script that fails to make use of the acting talent at hand and misses the mark on both the romance and comedy fronts, plus the attitudes towards women that went out with the Ark, all add up to a 'must avoid.' Perhaps Lessons in Filmmaking for its Director wouldn't go amiss.

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