We give it a pan

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

What are the cur­rent rules on (oh Lord, that word) “spoil­ers“? We are, surely, per­mit­ted to re­veal in­for­ma­tion put about by the writer and di­rec­tor.

In a re­cent ar­ti­cle for the Guardian, Dan Mazer, cre­ator of this cu­ri­ous mis­fire, de­scribed it as “a ro­man­tic com­edy about peo­ple split­ting up”. Sure enough, fol­low- ing a per­func­tory mon­tage in­volv­ing cute meet­ings and cuter pro­pos­als, Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall launch them­selves into an orgy of bick­er­ing, sneer­ing, scowl­ing and low be­hav­iour.

It looks as if Mr Mazer was get­ting his re­tal­i­a­tion in first. Ap­proach the film (as this re­viewer did) with­out that fore­knowl­edge and it makes ab­so­lutely no sense what­so­ever.

Pro­duced by Work­ing Ti­tle, keep­ers of the Richard Cur­tis er­mine, I Give It a Year hits all the ex­pected but­tons. Nod­ding to­wards Four Wed­dings and a Funeral, the pic­ture be­gins with Stephen Mer­chant (of­fer­ing an ex­tended cameo that be­gins promis­ingly be­fore greatly out­stay­ing its wel­come) de­liv­er­ing a de­light­fully un­suit­able best man’s speech at the cou­ple’s nup­tials.

Both par­tic­i­pants have glam­orous jobs: Rafe writes nov­els; Rose does some­thing in high-end mar­ket­ing. They live in a pre­dictably tasty cor­ner of an imag­i­nary Lon­don. Solid per­form­ers such as Olivia Col­man (lu­di­crous re­la­tion­ship ad­vi­sor), Min­nie Driver (nasty wife to flat­tened hus­band) and Alex Macqueen (route-one com­edy vicar) help fur­ther bal­ance the fa­mil­iar Work­ing Ti­tle equa­tion.

In short, we are, from the off, be­ing pointed to­wards an in­evitable nar­ra­tive arc: the lovely cou­ple fall in love, fall out of love and – fol­low­ing a rush to the ter­mi­nus – fall back to­gether again. Un­for­tu­nately, Byrne and Spall (good ac­tors do­ing their best) seem so ter­mi­nally un­suited and so re­lent­lessly un­pleas­ant that one rapidly ceases to care about the state of their puz­zling re­la­tion­ship.

“But I thought she was go­ing to wind up with that rich snob,” Dr Hib­bert, trapped in front of a Ju­lia Roberts flick called Love Is Nice, fa­mously moaned in an early episode of The Simp­sons. Mazer does, in­deed, seem to be push­ing us in that di­rec­tion. But ev­ery­thing else in his oth­er­wise con­ven­tional pic­ture ar­gues for a con­ven­tional end­ing.

A baf­flingly mis­guided ex­per­i­ment.

Moon­stuck: Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall in I Give It a Year

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