Director: Dan Mazer
Cast: Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Anna Faris, Simon Baker, Stephen Merchant and Minnie Driver
Plot: Newly-weds (Byrne and Spall) realise that marriage isn’t that magical and their relationship begins to crumble. Soon, it becomes a battle to make it to their first anniversary.
Rom-coms have never really been my thing. They are predictable, too easy-going and sappy. However, ‘I Give It A Year’ was surprisingly agreeable. Director Dan Mazer tries to do something different with the genre and takes some less than obvious directions with this film. As soon, as you learn that all rules are out the window, you can settle in and really enjoy this film.
One thing, I did note as I left the cinema was that this film isn’t overly ‘romantic’, making it not the best choice for a Valentine’s Day viewing. At times, the film doesn’t celebrate couples, as much as constantly point out their flaws. There are some sweet moments, but I was never too convinced in the relationships in this movie. However, when it comes to the other side of the genre, the comedy, the film excelled. The jokes were perfectly done (Rose Byrne’s comic timing is superb), often hitting close to home, as the director mocks habits that you may recognise in yourself. It’s the kind of film, where you turn to your friend in the cinema and say “that is so you!” Both men and women are the victims of the jokes, so the movie never seems sexist. In short, don’t go to this film expecting romance and you might just find a very fun comedy.
Because of the lack of romance, you could argue that you are watching a character piece of sorts. The characters are well-written here, keeping sympathy, even when their attentions start to stray to other people. Another thing I enjoyed about the movie were the ‘other girl’ and ‘other bloke’ characters. In the standard rom-com territory, these roles are often made out to be the villains. The man moving in on the lead female is often sleazy and a bit of a jerk (Kevin Bacon in ‘Crazy, Stupid Love) and the other girl is usually a manipulative bitch (Heike Makatsch in ‘Love Actually’). But Simon Baker and Anna Faris in this film are actually surprisingly likeable characters. At some points in the film, part of you wants Rose Byrne’s character to give up on Spall and get with Baker. It was another interesting feature that made me like ‘I Give It A Year’ so much more than the stereotypical chick flick.
The background characters are also handled well. Minnie Driver is excellent here, especially on her rant about how she would ‘sexually destroy Bieber’. Stephen Merchant is the main reason people will come and see this movie, not realising that he is only in it for about twenty minutes, if that, of the running time (although in fairness, this is what Merchant has done in every single one of his other movies). This is probably a good call: when he is on-screen, he monopolises the script, rattling off side-splitting, inappropriate jokes; none of the other characters can get a word in edgeways.
The star of the show actor-wise, however, is Anna Faris. She keeps the charm we have come to associate with her from ‘Scary Movie’ and her other comedies, yet she has matured as an actress. She strikes some emotional depth that we haven’t seen from her before. Mazer also sees fit to give her the duty of delivering an emotional monologue in the closing act. I hope Faris keeps heading in this direction, when choosing her future roles.
I am not entirely convinced by the film’s ending. Without ruining the joke or story, I agree with the direction, just not the tone. All seriousness goes out the window and it is hard to get your head around. Maybe it will improve on a second viewing, but it threw me a little in the cinema. Also, part of me felt as though everything we had seen so far in the film was leading up to this punch line, which took away from the whole movie experience. So while I enjoyed this movie, the ending left me feeling kind of confused and thrown.
Final verdict: Not really a romantic film, but once you’ve moved past that, it becomes a highly enjoyable comedy.
Next week: A Good Day to Die Hard