Today: July 20, 2024

I Give It A Year

After a whirlwind romance, ambitious advertising

After a
whirlwind romance, ambitious advertising executive Nat (Rose Byrne) and writer
Josh (Rafe Spall) marry in a dream wedding ceremony in the country

but even as the happy couple celebrate, the cracks are beginning to show, their
friends and family convinced it won’t last, Nat’s cynical sister Naomi (the
wonderfully acerbic Minnie Driver)
pronouncing: “I give it a year!”

Fast forwarding 9 months and told mostly in flashback during
the marriage guidance counselling sessions with their relationship therapist (Olivia Colman), we watch as Nat and
Josh’s relationship falls apart, the pressures of married life and living
together taking their toll as each is tempted to cheat; Josh with the ex he may
still love, best friend Chloe (Anna
Faris
) and Nat with suave American client Guy (Simon Baker). As their
first wedding anniversary approaches, will Nat and Josh make it?

Starting where most rom-coms finish, the happy ending, I Give It A Year takes Working Title’s
traditional formula (the characters themselves slyly referring to Hugh Grant movies) and tweaks it,
flying in the face of genre conventions, writer/director Dan Mazer charting not the blossoming of a relationship but the
withering as Nat and Josh fall out of love, their relationship imploding under
the pressure of being together and ultimately just not being suited to each
other. It’s a brave move and one
of the most subversive aspects of the film is that there’s no real villain;
neither Nat or Josh are to blame for their problems, it’s just life. Similarly, neither Chloe or Guy is
demonised; Chloe is no vapid seductress and Guy comes across as sensitive
rather than smug. They are simply
the people who are perfect for the protagonists.

The performances are excellent with Minnie Driver’s sour,
unfulfilled sister and Stephen Merchant’s
gormless best man battling Olivia Colman’s gloriously nutty and inappropriate
marriage counsellor to steal the show while Anna Faris is sweet and gorgeous as
Chloe and Simon Baker undercuts his usual poised suavity with an endearing
dorkiness as Guy. Rose Byrne
further cements her reputation as a gifted comedienne as the neurotic Nat while
Rafe Spall is funny and affable showing real leading man chops and giving Hugh
Grant a run for his money. If
anything, one of the niggling faults of I
Give It A Year
is the strong chemistry between Byrne and Spall whose scenes
together sparkle as they grow increasingly frustrated with one another.

A long-time collaborator of Sacha Baron Cohen’s, Mazer’s film has moments that are gloriously,
pant-wettingly funny, Merchant’s cringe-inducing best man speech an early
highlight with an ill-advised game of charades (you’ll watch Spall’s Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman mime through
tears of laughter) and an impromptu holiday photo display that’s breathtakingly
embarrassing while Baker’s romantic declaration of love involving two very
flustered doves is a wincing joy.

Funny, smart and human, I
Give It A Year
’s anti-rom-com is a refreshing twist on a tired genre.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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