I Give It a Year Movie Review
Not so much a rom-com as an anti-romance comedy, this brightly amusing British film makes us laugh fairly consistently, although the story itself is pretty grim. It's also a problem that the plot and characters are contrived and inconsistent. Even so, there's enough jaggedly hilarious humour in here to make it worth a look, complete with a superior cast that knows how to make the very most of even the smallest role.
The film opens with the lavish wedding of Josh and Nat (Spall and Byrne), although their friends and family not-so-secretly wonder if the marriage will last. Over the coming months, Josh's best mate Danny (Merchant) tries to distract them with inappropriate jokes, but the tension between relatives Naomi and Hugh (Driver and Flemyng) only reminds them how much work marriages require. After nine months, they begin seeing a therapist (Colman) who encourages them to try to make it to their first anniversary. But Josh is thinking about rekindling romance with an ex (Faris), while Nat is falling for the charms of a sexy client (Baker).
Essentially a collection of comedy set-pieces, the plot lurches around in search of ways to lampoon relationships, often in the rudest way possible as people say the worst things at the wrong times. Along the way there are some hilarious sequences, such as a humiliating game of charades or a ridiculous attempt at a threesome. Each set-up is are seized upon by expert improvisors like Merchant and Key (as a pessimistic insurance salesman). And the funniest moments in the film belong to Colman, who makes the most of every scene-stealing opportunity, and Driver, who expertly delivers a constant stream of withering insults.
By contrast, the central plot isn't much fun at all. Spall and Byrne are charming and funny, but their characters here become increasingly unlikeable in an attempt to make us believe they shouldn't be together. This might be a clever approach for a rom-com, but it leaves a sour taste in our mouths mainly because writer-director Mazer seems to be more interested in rushing to the next joke than giving us characters who actually realise that they need to work at a relationship. Which frankly offers just as much potential for comedy. And maybe that could have engaged our minds and hearts while making us laugh.