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Strike It Rich Reviews

Set in 1956, STRIKE IT RICH is the story of Ian Bertram (Robert Lindsay), a bored accountant with the huge London firm of Sitra, and his relationship with Cary Porter (Molly Ringwald), a British-born American. After several chance meetings, Ian and Cary decide to marry, planning a quiet ceremony in the small town of Bournemouth. Before his vacation, however, Ian is called into Sitra's dreaded Room 10, the office of his boss, Herbert Dreuther (John Gielgud). After correcting a mathematical problem (Ian is a whiz at numbers) and making a strong first impression (he and Dreuther have the same tastes in poetry), Ian is invited to have his marriage ceremony at Dreuther's expense in Monte Carlo, and afterwards to honeymoon aboard Dreuther's large yacht. Ian and Cary accept this generous invitation, of course, and head off to Monte Carlo. After the wedding (which Dreuther seems to have forgotten to attend) they laze about in the lap of luxury at the Hotel de Paris. While Cary eats rolls and sightsees, Ian spends his time at the roulette tables, and when the couple discovers that--thanks to Dreuther's having abandoned them--they have run out of money, Ian decides to devise the perfect mathematical system to win at roulette. He soon wins more money than he ever dreamed of, but in the process he has become an arrogant, vengeful jerk. Blinded by greed, he sets out to tip the scales of power at Sitra by buying all of the stock owned by a key shareholder (Max Wall), then to fire Dreuther. Appalled, Cary leaves him for a quiet Frenchman (Simon de la Brosse) she met in the casino. Ian wins her back, but only after he throws away all of his new wealth, after which the pair sails off on Dreuther's yacht. STRIKE IT RICH is stupefying and tedious in every way. The film's message (money corrupts, and can't buy happiness) has been done to death, its central relationship is boring (Lindsay and Ringwald display absolutely no chemistry), and the direction by James Scott, full of soft-focus shots and stock footage, is stiff. (Scott also wrote the screenplay, adapted from Graham Greene's Loser Takes All.) The pacing is leaden: major events (including Ian and Cary's courtship, their marriage, and the trip to Monte Carlo) fly by in the first few minutes, while the final half is devoted to repetitive gambling sequences and slow plot developments. Reaching desperately for a romantic, lush tone, director Scott never gets past the artificial gloss of the cheap sets and painfully bright photography (though, inexplicably, the opening five minutes are in black and white). The tone ranges from strained romance to strained comedy (sometimes unnecessarily cruel comedy) and none of the elements seem to connect in a true romantic comedy. Scott cut his teeth in documentary filmmaking, and STRIKE IT RICH, at times, feels like a documentary; with its useless voice-overs and travelog footage, the film has no cohesive narrative structure and simply provides a stream of boring data. The actors seem completely lost in all of this, especially Ringwald, whose sweet-sixteen mannerisms have become increasingly annoying. She gives a stilted performance, sorely lacking in the alluring sexuality needed for her character. Lindsay fares better, and although he is essentially playing Jonathan Pryce's character from BRAZIL (which seems to have been a major influence on Scott), he manages to add a few genuine quirks of his own. Nonetheless, his work is overwhelmed by the script's cliched dialog and thin character development. Gielgud appears to be in it for the paycheck, while the supporting performances of Wall and de la Brosse are simply impenetrable. Boring and repetitive, STRIKE IT RICH is a messy piece of filmmaking that can be added to the increasing and varied list of Ringwald's duds. (Adult situations, profanity.)