"It’s no good pretending that any relationship has a future if your record collections disagree violently or if your favourite films wouldn’t even speak to each other if they met at a party."- Nick Hornby
Hearing that this film was of the same ilk as Bridget Jones and Love Actually, I was instinctively expecting something very Richard Curtis-esque. Although I wouldn't say it reaches the same comedic heights as those films, it's well worth a watch, with a more than credible cast who deliver the witty script with aplomb.
Rafe Spall and Rose Byrne lead as a newly married couple, wed after only a few months of meeting, at the concern of their nearest and dearest, all of whom are dubious of the union's longevity. Following the trajectory of the crucial first year, ex-girlfriends and suave newcomers threaten to shake the already precarious foundations of the relationship.
Above all others, I love home-grown, British films. Specifically how they celebrate the humour (both the dry wit and sarcasm, coupled with the more slapstick); the idiosyncrasies of behaviour - a scene that hit this on the nail was one which poked fun at the tedious routine of calculating (to the penny) each person's share of the bill at the end of a meal - and all to a backdrop highlighting the best parts of the country, especially the West End. (Notting Hill, Love Actually, Bridget Jones all being prime examples.)
I was slightly nervous that 'I Give It A Year' might end up being a parody of itself, slightly overwrought with the clichés of the typical British rom-com, given the hype of it coming from the people who delivered the above films. Despite how much I love them, I think it could be quite easy to follow the same formula of these films, and translate them into a slightly different scenario with only, marginally different characters.
I can't say it was totally different - there were the generic sub-plotlines and archetypes (married characters realising their true love is elsewhere with elsewhere usually being, quite literally, right around the corner; the hapless and ever present, inappropriate best friend of the male protagonist - see Rhys Ifans in Notting Hill; and dubious characters in professional or authority positions (the vicar or priest almost always being a culprit, both in 'I Give It A Year', and Four Weddings and a Funeral).
In films like these, there aren't any special effects, grand cinematography or overcomplicated storylines to distract audiences away from the writing or acting of the cast. I've been particularly fond of Rafe Spall since watching him in 'Pete Vs. Life' (which I'm really disappointed there's not been a third series of!), though I hope he won't be typecast as the hapless, slightly awkward and gawky "non-typical" male lead, unlucky in love and life (also seen in 'One Day'). I think he's great nonetheless and especially at comedic roles. His off-dialogue murmurings were a brilliant adjunct to the character interactions and made for a really personable and likeable performance.
Rose Byrne didn't come off in quite the same way - though this is probably due to her character being obviously intentioned to be more stern and in stark contrast to Spall's. I felt that we should have wanted to be equally sympathetic to both characters, though Spall's purposely came across as more deserving. Rose's character is frequently shown as snappy, fed up and out of sync with her new husband, whereas Spall seemed a bit more helpless and determined to keep the relationship working.
There are some really funny, laugh out loud moments, and the audience loved cringing in hysterics at the 'crude but could happen' moments, or at the blunt directness of character exchanges (most particularly those from Minnie Driver and Jason Flemyng as the exasperated, bitter married couple, serving as a warning for the newlyweds of what lies in store.)
It's been a while since a film like this really caught my eye, as I (probably quite unfairly) hold them up to the same scrutiny as the more stellar Brit-rom-coms. But again, with its solid cast that also includes Stephen Merchant and Olivia Colman and its more than well written script, I came away really pleased that I had taken a chance on it!
I couldn't help but add this gem in! All this talk of Richard Curtis and British rom-coms, it was only inevitable!