Review: I Give it a Year - the future of Brit rom-com?
I Give it a Year sees Borat and Bruno writer Dan Mazer meet the producers of Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually in an unlikely partnership. But don’t let that put you off. I Give It a Year really sticks two fingers up at the British rom-com genre that we do so well, while managing to satisfy our taste for the fuzzy, feelgood factor.
The film follows Nat and Josh (Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall), a strikingly mismatched couple seeking guidance from a questionable counsellor after a tough first year of marriage. Here we see the interaction between the common and mundane problems that marriage brings, with an all-too-familiar nod to the matter of in-laws, annoying friends, old flames and the casual slipping-off of a wedding ring.
Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall deliver credible performances, particularly so with the clash of Nat’s career ambitions and Josh’s so-called writer’s block, which are spot on. American talent Anna Faris and Simon Baker also contribute nicely to the frame, acting, respectively, as ex-girlfriend and flirtatious businessman.
In some ways I Give It a Year follows the customs of British romantic comedy, set in the heart of London with a string of amusing, witty and interesting characters. With an impressive cast, amongst which Minnie Driver and comedian Stephen Merchant play minor roles – it’s a pleasant surprise to find their characters aren’t pointlessly popping up everywhere. Merchant remains the irregular and irritating friend that he is, rather than becoming the comedic crutch the film leans on.
Compared to the awkwardly charming and overly-British couple that us Brits are so familiar with (on screen, that is), struggling couple Nat and Josh go against rom-com expectation. *As if the airport scene, balcony scene (and remaining scenes, for that matter) in Love Actually would ever happen*. One of the film’s main successes lies in how we really, and I mean really, get a sense of just how annoying and niggling Nat and Josh’s habits are.
Yet like with any three-dimensional characters, this swings in the other direction too, as they prove to be likable and funny people in a relationship that has simply lost its spark. In fact, some of the themes that I Give It a Year touches on might be a little near the knuckle for some viewers.
There is also a sense that this film is gently satirising the rom-com genre, with its light-hearted yet foreboding title and ill-matched couple. Either way, it is commendable for finally giving audiences a couple that they can relate to, along with a playful hint that the distance between love and hate is not very far at all.
Above all, I Give It a Year guarantees plenty of laughs. It’s amusing and fresh in its approach; most definitely worth a watch, and a solid four out of five stars.
I Give it a Year hits UK cinemas 8th February 2013