This began life as a short stage monologue about an ordinary guy who enjoys a brief, doomed fumble with an exotic woman. On screen, the ordinary guy is earthy librarian Frank (John Simm) and the exotic woman is Miranda (Christina Ricci), a con artist who coaxes rich folk into coughing up for condemned buildings. Miranda has a kindly old handler, Christian (John Hurt), and the two are on the brink of swiping £5 million from pervy property dealer Nailor (Kyle MacLachlan).
Sharp stage pieces tend to have their edges blunted while being reshaped for the screen and Miranda's no different, never really convincing as a romance, comedy or, if you insist, thriller. That it's kept buoyant at all is down to some culture-clash froth between Simm and Ricci, the ever-watchable Brit actor teetering on the edge of salt-of-the-earth typecast while Ricci plays it coolly magnetic, if a little too classy, for the fluffy script. MacLachlan also does his bit by having a little fun, making up for Hurt's going-through-the-gravelly-motions turn by sleazing up his tycoon baddie with plenty of lusty tics. Now if only the cast could have agreed what kind of film they're all in...
There's evidence of sparky theatrical writing in Frank's voiceovers, but the drama is soon muffled by some floppy plotting and slick, empty visuals. All of which makes Miranda another one to add to your growing list of lukewarm British comedies, then. It's films such as this that make you appreciate how good someone like Richard Curtis is at what he does. Ummm, sort of.