Saturday 24 June 2017

Movie Review: I Give It A Year (2013)

A romantic comedy with a difference, I Give It A Year takes a subversive perspective on the genre and achieves edgy success.

The film starts with London couple Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) nine months into their marriage and already comprehensively in the emotional doldrums. In flashback, their troubles are revealed, starting with a messy wedding day punctuated by a best-man speech from hell courtesy of Josh's friend Danny (Stephen Merchant). Josh is a struggling writer, Nat is a high powered advertising executive, they share little in common, and their home life quickly descends into mutual irritations.

But their real challenges begin when Josh's ex-girlfriend social worker Chloe (Anna Faris) reemerges, and it's clear that they still have feelings for each other. Meanwhile Nat meets dashing rich executive and potential new client Guy (Simon Barker), and he aggressively pursues a romance. Josh is much more interested in Chloe, Nat is really interested in Guy, and the inconvenience of their young marriage is just getting in the way.

Directed and written by Dan Mazer, I Give It A Year is a less than serious shot in the arm for the rom-com genre, and it lands its punches exactly as intended. This is a foul-mouthed, no holds barred adult-oriented comedy, stressing the laughs much more than the romance, and finding many quite hilarious moments. Mazer sets out to dismantle as many cliches as he can find, and conjures up frequent scenes of awkwardness that nibble away at any notions of fluffy romance.

Merchant's unfiltered brand of politically incorrect comedy acts as a regular dose of disruptive steroids and contributes to the film's ethos. Elsewhere a clumsy attempted threesome does not work as well but makes the point of dispelling the thrill of that act. Much better is a ridiculously funny highlight featuring a delicious combination of two excited doves, a violinist, a platter of oysters and a ceiling fan.

The film's intentions are to demonstrate how a seemingly perfect union can takes a wrong turn, some temptations are too good to ignore, and mistakes of the heart can lead to domestic misery. It's all delivered with a self-deprecating tone, helped by an appealing Rose Byrne performance. She occupies the space where professional ambitions, opportunities for lust and the tug of faithfulness collide in a mushroom cloud of guilt. Rafe Spall plays his part, but is overshadowed by both Byrne and Anna Faris, who delivers the most honest performance as a down to earth woman unaware of her appeal.

The cast also includes Minnie Driver as a caustic and long-married mutual friend, and Olivia Colman as a less than helpful marriage counselor.

Playful and incendiary, I Give It A Year cheerfully sticks needles into the doll of familiarity.

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