Review: I Give It A Year ★★★☆☆

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This British film, written and directed by Dan Mazer, is a co-production between StudioCanal, Working Title and (rather intriguingly) Amazon rental company LOVEFiLM. It’s being marketed as the next feature in a long line of hits including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually. It’s a shame these titles have been so prominently billed on the promotional poster, as this film is not really like those at all. The humour is broader, its content is more similar to the films of Judd Apatow (though funnier and less sexist), and the story lacks the warmth or depth of those other Working Title productions. It’s also worth noting that Richard Curtis is nowhere to be seen in the writing credits, which probably accounts for the lack of any real emotional intelligence.

The story is about a mismatched couple (Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall) who get married too soon. They are not meant for each other, and as the movie goes on they both meet ‘the one’ they should have settled down with (Simon Baker and Anna Farris). It’s an unromantic comedy.

The opening of the film focuses on the wedding. A cringe-inducing best man speech from Stephen Merchant sets the tone, as does a weird dance number from him and Spall followed by the lighting of flying lanterns that are released into the sky. It reminded me of the first half of Lars von Trier’s uneasy film Melancholia. Maybe this is what that film would have been like if Lars had been high on Sunny Delight when he wrote it.

Some moments had me close to tears with laughter – Oliver Colman’s scenes as a relationship counsellor are brilliant – but overall it’s a bit weak and limp. There just isn’t enough substantial narrative meat on its bones.

Stephen Merchant has made a living playing an obnoxious, unfunny, borderline-homophobe with bad social skills. Here he plays the same character again and it is just as tiresome as it was when he did it in Ricky Gervais’s BBC comedy Extras. The humour he spouts in this film doesn’t have quite the same nasty edge it usually has (probably because Gervais didn’t write it), but he still rambles on for far too long.

Supporting turns from Minnie Driver and Jane Asher work very well, and there’s some nice observational humour about the British class system. It’s just a shame the characters aren’t more likable, the story stronger, and the ending a little less rushed.

I Give it a Year (2013), directed by Dan Mazer, is distributed in the UK by StudioCanal, Certificate 15. 

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Second year BA Film & English Student. Watches too many films and enjoys good novels.

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