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Friday, 9 March, 2001, 18:58 GMT
Director brings Romance to 'uptight' Brits
Born Romantic
McCormack, Williams and Horrocks find love in a salsa club
By BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas

Shakespeare would have been proud of director David Kane who believes music is the food of love and has made it the subject of his latest film.

The feature is Born Romantic and the music is salsa, whose sexy sound fittingly conjures up images of balmy South American nights.

But the setting of Kane's British-made love fest is far less arousing.

Kane takes audiences down into a dingy London club where uncoordinated couples try desperately to strut their stuff.


Salsa is an expression of uninhibited passion but once the characters leave the club they find it hard to express it in their real lives

David Kane

Here, also, seven strangers - played by a cast including Jane Horrocks, Jimi Mistry and Olivia Williams - come to seek respite from their loveless, monotonous lives.

They are all cynical about love and wary of commitment. But little by little the liberating Latin rhythms inspire them to drop their guard.

Glaswegian Kane, who also wrote Born Romantic, says the music is symbolic.

"It's a metaphor for the way the characters have much more trouble expressing their emotions in real life than they do on the dance floor," he explains.

"Salsa is an expression of uninhibited passion but once the characters leave the club they find it hard to express it in their real lives."

Glaswegian Kane - who admits to coming from repressed Presbyterian Scottish stock - says the dismal setting was vital to the film - and indeed its inspiration.

David Kane
David Kane believes music breaks down barriers

"I went to a salsa club with my friends to see what it was like and was struck by how sexy and uninhibited it was.

"I then found the situation very funny because the British are usually so closed and uptight.

"The juxtaposition of the two started me thinking about the film. London was important because it can be such a big, anonymous, often lonely place."

Morbid

The unhappy singletons in Born Romantic are an odd assortment. Among them is promiscuous Scouser Mo, played by Horrocks.

Mo has low self-esteem after being jilted and used by men. She craves affection but also pretends she doesn't care.


Each of the characters has a bit of me in them

David Kane

Eleanor, played by Olivia Williams, is an aloof art restorer who is single and claims to want to stay that way.

Her stand-offish attitude does not however put off Frankie, played by Craig Ferguson - a recently divorced Sinatra fan.

Desperate is the only word to describe just about everything to do with Jimi Mistry's character Eddie.

He is a petty thief who comes a cropper when he falls in love with Jocelyn (Catherine McCormack) - a geeky, complex bag of a neuroses.

She's a hypochondriac who finds comfort in a local cemetery where she tends the graves of strangers.

Kane, who previously wrote and directed This Year's Love, says it took him around five months to write the multi-layered script - longer than he would have liked.

But, he says, every character in his film is close to his heart: "Each of the characters has a bit of me in them.

"I am, for instance, a bit of an easy listening kind of guy like Craig Ferguson's character."

But, surprisingly, it is Jocelyn with whom he relates the most.

"I also am a hypochondriac and completely morbid. When I walk down the street I am one of those people who expects the bus to run me down.

"Also, I spent some time in Edinburgh and I would end up sitting in this graveyard for hours - I loved it."

Comedy

McCormack worked with Kane on This Year's Love and Kane admits she is one of his favourite actresses.

"I have a good laugh with Catherine, she is very funny and enjoys the work. She is also very kind," he explains.

Jimi Mistry and Craig Ferguson  in Born Romantic
Jimi Mistry and Craig Ferguson feel the beat

But then the director says all his ensemble cast, who also include David Morrissey and Adrian Lester, were his first choices.

"Jimi, for example, I had met the year before when I was showing This Year's Love at a film festival," he says.

"We got drunk one night and I when it came to casting the wily Eddie I immediately thought of him."

Despite the desperation of Kane's characters, Born Romantic is a funny film. Personalities are skilfully outlined despite the sparse use of words.

Kane also makes effective use of the cut-away sketch format, favoured by TV comedy shows.

And Born Romantic is also more upbeat than This Year's Love, which also focused on troubled relationships.

Kane confesses that he is mellowing with the advancement of age.

"I feel I am getting more romantic as I get older. If it had gone the other way I would be really in trouble," says Kane laughing.

"But you would have to ask my girlfriend what she thought about it."

Born Romantic opens across the UK on 9 March.

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