As regular readers will know, I'm an eternal singleton who isn't very keen on Valentine's Day. Nonetheless watching Born Romantic on the evening of said day was my one concession to the spirit of it. I hadn't seen it in years, and I'm glad I've caught up with it again now - Thank God for That's Entertainment (my local DVD and music store) and it's 3 for a fiver deal!
As with his directorial debut, This Year's Love, David Kane uses a combination of characters and interweaving storylines to explore the meaning of what it is to be in and out of love in turn of the century London. Whilst This Year's Love charted the course of true love running less than smooth through the pubs and clubs of trendy Camden, the setting this time around is much more specific; a salsa club - the then up and coming leisure time established as an alternative and prime pickup joint for the '00s.
As a writer, Kane has a real flair for characterisation and an eye for authentic behaviour that places him more in the Mike Leigh camp than the Richard Curtis one. From Rat Pack admiring Frankie and self-contained, frosty Eleanour through to the morbidly fascinated Joceyln and inept thief Eddie, by way of former lovers from Liverpool Fergus and Mo; each one leads dysfunctional and empty, unfulfilling lives but each finds a chance of freedom and romance when drawn to the dancefloor.
And as a director, Kane gets the very best from an ensemble that includes Craig Ferguson, Olivia Williams, Catherine McCormack (who gives probably my favourite performance of the lot as the neurotic Jocelyn), Jimi Mistry, David Morrissey and Jane Horrocks, as well as Adrian Lester as the sensitive, sympathetic 'cupid' cab driver who circles their orbit, and cameos from the likes of John Thomson and Ian Hart who provide the film with a Greek chorus as Lester's fellow cabbies, discussing women in a manner not to dissimilar to Pete and Dud or the Smith and Jones head to heads.