Uneven script but some hilarity in ‘I Give It A Year’
Parting is such bittersweet sorrow in Dan Mazer’s London-set anti-romcom.
‘I Give It A Year’ deviates from a well-trodden narrative path by quickly declaring its intention to split up the central married couple in order to pair them off with more suitable soulmates.
The gamble that we’ll whoop and cheer all the way to the divorce courts doesn’t quite pay off because Mazer tempers heartbreak with sentimentality, contriving a final flourish slathered in so much syrupy emotion, you can feel the teeth rotting in your head as the end credits roll.
There’s no period of emotional devastation for characters to come to terms with their inevitable separation and loss, no self-reflection or crippling guilt - just a seamless transition from a doomed relationship to eternal bliss.
The film begins with the wedding of Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall), who have enjoyed a whirlwind romance and are looking forward to getting to know each better other as husband and wife.
A toe-curling speech from best man Danny (Stephen Merchant) is the first bad omen and nine months later we find the couple in a counselling session with a sardonic therapist (Olivia Colman) plagued by her own relationship issues.
A depressed Josh seeks refuge in the company of kooky old flame Chloe (Anna Faris), who has been abroad for years and clearly still adores him.
Meanwhile, corporate high flier Nat is wooed by charming American businessman Guy (Simon Baker).
While clearly tempted, she doesn’t want to hurt Josh.
“You’re a Ferrari and he’s a Volvo,” she tells Guy. “Right now, I need to be behind the wheel of a Volvo. I need reliability.”
Sooner rather than later, we know that she will succumb to a test drive of a racier model.
‘I Give It A Year’ has moments of genuine hilarity and the cast wrings every last titter from Mazer’s potty-mouthed and bawdy script.
The writer-director orchestrates some hilarious interludes courtesy of the supporting characters, such as Danny’s best man’s speech that lurches from political incorrectness to crudity, and an unfortunate set of holiday snaps.
Scene-stealing supporting performances include Merchant as a hapless ladies’ man and Minnie Driver as Nat’s acid-tongued sister, Naomi, whose love-hate relationship with her spouse (Jason Flemyng) errs towards enmity.
“I’d ruin Bieber,” grins Naomi, lustfully imagining a liaison with the teenage pop sensation.
Spall and Byrne are likeable and the film makes a compelling case for Nat and Josh to find happiness in the arms of Guy and Chloe instead.
However, when cinematic hearts can be broken and then seemingly mended in the blink of an eye, it’s difficult to muster empathy for the characters or place any value in new and supposed healthier relationships.
Star Rating: 3/5