Review: I give it a year

Tom Parry,

In my opinion when it comes to Romantic Comedies we should all know the deal, shouldn’t we? They all seem to follow exactly the same formula and are almost impossible to tell apart.

The ‘will they/won’t they’ couple finally make it to the altar after a ridiculous amount of twists and turns. They say “I do”, some feel good pop kicks in, the credits roll and everyone goes home happy.

Well this really isn’t the case for I Give it a Year and it certainly doesn’t fit the mould of your average Rom-Com. Starting on that happy day at the church (at the point when almost every other film in this genre ends) is interesting enough but then the movie drops its bombshell and poses the difficult question… ‘Did I just marry the wrong person?’ With these elements in place Dan Mazer’s directorial debut definitely gives us a refreshing take on the idea of true love.

As Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne) tie the knot all that glitters certainly isn’t gold and the future definitely isn’t looking too bright. Over the next 90 minutes the pair must try to work around their clashing personalities, values, families (pretty much everything about them) and try and get through that difficult first year of marriage. All whilst Nat tries to fight off the advances of a new work client (The Mentalist’s Simon Baker) and Josh battles with his feelings for an old flame (Anna Faris)

You might wonder why someone would choose to make almost an ‘Anti Rom-Com’ with themes of divorce and being in an unhappy relationship as vehicles for comedy but when you find out that Mazer is a writing partner of Sasha Baron Cohen and helped him with Borat the film’s off-beat and kooky nature becomes clear.

As a standalone comedy it’s got plenty of laughs, awkward cringy moments and a hilarious scene involving the in-laws and a digital photo frame (trust me, that’s all you want to know) It also features two excellent performances by Stephen Merchant, who steals all the best lines and in my opinion the film as Josh’s massively inappropriate best friend and Olivia Coleman as the marriage councillor from hell.

Despite this the films’ problem is that while its characters are funny, they’re not exactly likeable. With the movies romantic side (the relationship between Josh and Nat) suffering as a result.

Spall, who is brilliantly endearing in Channel 4s Pete versus life, just doesn’t quite bring the same qualities here and Rose Byrne is at times quite frankly shallow and annoying. I know it’s a film but I did start to wonder how they ever got together in the first place.

I just couldn’t help feel that for a story like this to work you needed to really want the two leads to be happy and after spending an hour with them I really didn’t care.

Another flaw is that Nigel Planner is massively underused as Joshs’ dad and this was disappointing. Considering how great a comic actor he is why cast him if you’re not going to use him?

To the film’s credit it’s plot did keep me engaged throughout and surprisingly even though I didn’t like the couple I was still curious to see how it would work out for them at the end.

Even though Valentines Day’s is over, I Give it a Year is still worth a watch. If you’re not in a relationship or a big fan of these types of films then don’t be afraid it’s got enough originality and humour to keep you entertained.


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