Slippery with Sleight-of-hand, The Con-Heartist is Lightweight Fun
(If you’re in London throwing-distance this evening and seeking a reason to chuckle on a Monday night, find The Con-Heartist information here.)
The OTT-ness of The Con-Heartist is reminiscent of a Will Farrell flick or Bollywood masala. There’s the nascent sensation that Shah Rukh Khan may drop by to check on the team and perhaps offer some Happy New Year style heist advice at any moment.
It begins with a kind-hearted woman conned by a seasoned, sweet-faced climber. Desperate to pay off the huge debt landed by her ex, she slogs at a collection agency, having lost her job at a bank. We don’t know how she lost her job but there’s a vague implication that her relationship may have played a part. Can they fire you for being swindled personally? In any case, now slightly more jaded, she narrowly avoids a phone scam. In return for not turning ‘leech eyebrows’ in, he agrees to help her get her money back from the first scammer. But how does one con a con? With a bigger con, of course.
Writer/director Mez Tharatorn also helmed Thai blockbuster ATM: Er Rak Error and I Fine..Thank You..Love You (Netflix). He knows his way around a rom-com, delivering a story that’s easy to watch and a reason to giggle.
Pimchanok Leuwisetpaiboon, or Biafern as she’s known, leads the piece and appears to be something like the Drew Barrymore of Thailand. A freelance actress in a country where most are tied to a network, she has a long list of works – 36 movies and dramas – for her comparative 12 years in the industry. She plays the hard-done-by heroine Ina, but you may recognize her from the Netflix Thai drama My Dear Warrior as well as The Sand Princess and movie Friend Zone (Prime).
Nadech Kugimiya, plays counterpart Tower, a low-level con-artist perpetually on the hunt for a new and bigger job. He’s known for his completely opposite role as a straight-laced military man in Thai drama The Crown Princess. You may have also seen him in the starring role of the Thai remake of South Korean drama My Love from Another Star originally led by Kim Soo-Hyun. If you like what you see, catch him in at least three more dramas from 2022 and beyond.
The two – he the brains, she the bankroll – gather some strapped-for-cash friends with skills and put together a hoodwink for their target. So… half the team are ‘pros’ and the other half not-so-much, leaving a buffet of things that can go wrong or shockingly right.
It’s light, it’s fun, it’s universal – and quite an interesting pick for a film festival really, which typically focuses on less ‘everyman’ type fare, often going for the higher brow. Given a 12A rating in the UK, it’s not a kid movie but fine for families with just the odd naughty word or implication here and there.
The escapist charm is thoroughly enjoyable. But if you’re less into goofball humour this one may not be a favourite. For a rom-com it hits the mark, telling a reasonably relatable story, offering some likeable characters and drawing the viewers along for the ride. If inane humour is your thing, you will certainly walk away with a smile.
Part of the line-up for the 2021 London East Asia Film Festival, The Con-Heartist will be screened in London on Monday, October 25th. The festival runs from Oct 21-31. For more information, see the LEAFF programme here. Click here to see more movies reviewed as part of this festival.
Verdict - 8.5/10