A hit and miss affair

Film - Philip Kerr would like to see Jennifer Lopez in the ring with Lennox Lewis

In The Constant Husband (1955), Rex Harrison played a man who kept on getting married. This was pretty near the truth, for in real life our Rex was seldom single for very long. With a false eye and a wig, he was generally regarded as a deeply unpleasant man (on his deathbed, he is reported to have told his younger son, Carey, to drop dead), but somehow he managed to marry six times, and nearly always to women of great beauty.

Watching Enough, starring Jennifer Lopez, I was somehow reminded of Rex, for, aged just 32, Lopez has already been married twice and recently has announced plans to marry a third lucky man, Ben Affleck, just as soon as her divorce from her second husband, Cris Judd, has been made absolute. And let's not forget Sean "P Diddy" Combs, with whom Lopez enjoyed an explosive relationship. Clearly, if Lopez does have any talent at all, then it is a talent for making bad choices with her men and her movies. In her latest film, Lopez seems to explore her own peculiar talent for being wrong, playing Slim, a misnamed waitress who marries a man, Mitch (Billy Campbell) in haste, and then repents at her leisure. Nothing new there then, but, unfortunately, this is our leisure as well, and there are many better things to do with it than endure this silly film.

Mitch is an old-fashioned type of guy and, judging by his words and behaviour, he most resembles the spoof Humphrey Bogart in Woody Allen's Play it Again Sam, who said: "I never met a dame yet that didn't understand a slap in the mouth or a slug from a .45." When Slim finally catches Mitch committing adultery, Lopez brings the persona of an irate chipmunk tearing a strip off Donald Duck to her big confrontation scene and, rightly, earns herself a slap followed by a right hook that had me cheering. In truth, Mitch hardly hits her at all, so light is the damage to Jennifer's face powder. Generally, I am against hitting women; but if Lennox Lewis is looking for another big pay day before he retires, then my suggestion is that they put him in the ring with Lopez. It would, surely, be a sell-out on HBO.

Slim deserves a good hiding just for being so stupid. For example, when she decides that enough is enough (having sat through this movie, I know that feeling very well), she chooses not to escape her abusive husband when he is safely out of the house at work, but in the middle of the night, when he is sleeping next to her. Duh. A pair of slaps for that. And while we're boxing ears, here's one for the director, Michael Apted, who drives a whole team of cliches through this waste of space like a pack of weary sled dogs.

Just when you think Enough couldn't possibly get any worse, it turns into a sort of feminist Charles Bronson revenge fantasy. Unaccountably failed by the legal system, and pursued across America by her violent husband, J-Lo decides to go it alone. She enrols in a class to learn Krav Maga, the Israeli army's martial art (and I thought that was blowing up Palestinian houses), and engineers a situation wherein Mitch will have no alternative but to go manny a manny (this is the Jewish version of mano a mano) with J-Lo, and which will give her the excuse she needs to kill him. Despite sounding like a thinly veiled allegory of American foreign policy vis-a-vis Iraq, this simplistic premise provides the only real moment of interest in the movie, and it's immediately clear from the relish with which Hollywood's most pugnacious glamour girl kicks her husband's ass that it must have come as something of a relief to her that at least she wouldn't have to try to act any more.

Real victims of domestic violence will treat this film with contempt. For a supposedly battered wife, Lopez only ever has a small cut on her flawless cheek and it is easy to conclude that she did not think any of her fans could bear to see her mug covered with bruises as well as a complete lack of expression. Watching this woman try and put some emotion on her face is a little like watching a toddler trying to put on make-up. It's a shame, because a film like this ought to have provided Lopez with a real opportunity to prove herself as an actress.

Which brings me back to Rex Harrison and something he said after being knighted. Having expressed the suspicion that the Queen didn't seem to have been properly briefed, he added: "Mind you, you'd have to be a complete c**t not to get it right."

Enough (12) is on general release