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Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 15:54 GMT
Born Romantic
Born Romantic
Keeping up appearances for a night of salsa
By the BBC's Neil Smith

This year's Regus London Film Festival fittingly comes to a closes with the European première of Born Romantic.

The movie is a romantic comedy shot in authentic London locations such as Hoxton, Hackney and Shoreditch.

The inspiration, though, comes from a different place entirely: Latin America.

Born Romantic
David Kane had a hit with This Year's Love

Written and directed by David Kane, Born Romantic tells of seven strangers who seek respite from their loveless lives by visiting a salsa club.

Though wary of commitment and terrified of being hurt, the infectious Latin rhythms inspire them to forget their inhibitions and open themselves up to what life, and love, has to offer.

"The salsa is there to represent expression and passion and a side of human nature that comes out in people when they dance," says Kane, who first made his mark with This Year's Love, another London-based ensemble comedy.

"It symbolises the heart of the characters and their desire to free themselves from all their inhibitions.

"You have to let yourself go, which is what the characters struggle to do."

Desperate

These characters include sexually-liberated Scouser Mo - played by Jane Horrocks.

Mo is forced to rethink her life when Fergus - the man who jilted her a week before their wedding - returns.

Born Romantic
Jimi Mistry and Craig Ferguson perfect their moves

"Mo's quite passionate about men - she has a different one every night," jokes Little Voice star Horrocks.

"Having been jilted she's got low self-esteem, so she basically has sex with anything. She's quite lippy and likes to have fun, but underneath she's quite desperate."

Desperate is a good word to describe Eddie, played by Jimi Mistry from East Is East.

He is a thief who comes a cropper when he falls for Jocelyn, whose bag he's snatched. Jocelyn, however, is no ordinary woman.

"Jocelyn is geeky and neurotic and walks around in a neck brace to protect herself," says Catherine McCormack, who worked with Kane previously on This Year's Love.

"She's a hypochondriac grave tender who's attracted to Eddie because he's another weird wallflower."

The third couple comprise Frankie, played by Craig Ferguson - a recently divorced Sinatra fan.

Eleanor, played by Olivia Williams, is an art restorer who's single and wants to stay that way.

Wiggle

All these characters share their problems with Jimmy, played by Adrian Lester, a kindly minicab driver. But Jimmy also has his own troubles.

"Since Jimmy's wife died, he's not looking for anything - he believes he's lost what he really wanted," says Lester.

Born Romantic
Adrian Lester has enough problems of his own as Jimmy

"But through the progression of the story he begins to end the grieving process."

All the actors had to learn salsa for the film, as Williams recalls.

"Salsa is basically a licence to wiggle your arse and get indecently close to someone you don't know very well," she says.

"The idea of being paid to do salsa dancing made this a perfect job for me."

Born Romantic may not be particularly original, but the fine cast and an amusing, thoughtful script make it superior to most examples of the genre.

All in all, it's a great way to round off one of the best London Film Festivals of recent years.

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