It's not everyday that we see an Australian romantic comedy on Singapore screens, so if you're game for a smaller film that takes a more heartfelt look at modern love and relationships, with lovable characters each with their own quirks, then look no further than I Love You Too, its title playing on the 4 words that the commitment phobic try to avoid all the time. For some, asking them to proclaim their love for another is sounding the death knell, with Freedom being kissed goodbye...
Peter Helliar's story is perhaps what made I Love You Too quite refreshing, focusing on various aspects of love instead of a sole romantic one, such as that between two siblings who have to fend for themselves for almost two decades when their parents perished in a car crash, a married couple facing a new entrant into their lives, the brotherly love between two best buddies, and that instant connection and bond shared between two strangers who start off on the wrong footing, but find in each other's company strength and the beginning of a genuine friendship. Such is this tale that we'll find nuggets of character aspects that will appeal to, and identify with.
Essentially it's the story of a break up between Jim (Brendan Cowell) and Alice (Yvonne Strahovski), two unlikely souls who meet in a bar and their one night stand had carried onto 3.5 years. With that kind of a relationship comes the expectations of progressing further, such as uttering that three word phrase, a long awaited proposal, and marriage. But to Jim, a man-child who refuses to grow up and works in what was once the largest miniature train in his father's co-owned theme park, having to commit means getting Alice a commitment ring at best. Disappointed, Alice breaks up their relationship on Jim's birthday, and so begins Jim's quest to try to woo her back.
The beauty of the story comes from the many friendships and relationships between the ensemble characters. There's Jim and his best buddy Blake (Peter Helliar) who more often than not plays his wingman when they hit the bars, and opens up that blokes like him can only hope to feed off the scraps that Jim passes of. Blake is the kind of tragic character who does a lot to get noticed, and like all best buddies know how to pull the other up when the chips are down, although sometimes leading to hilariously disastrous situations.
While that between Alice and Jim is supposedly set to be the strongest relationship on display here since this is almost primarily their story, the one that I enjoyed most was that between Jim and Charlie (Peter Dinklage), a vertically challenged man who got to know Jim when the latter broke into his car. Reading a letter Charlie made out to a "Francesca", Jim is adamant that Charlie assist him in being his Cyrano, pestering him to come up with the perfect letter to woo his lady love back. These two soon grow in their friendship, and in a tit-for-tat manner, Jim decides to return the favour by hand delivering Charlie's letter, which opens up a delightful yet bittersweet subplot that runs parallel to Jim's quest for love. Saying anything more will ruin the surprise package, but I suppose one will be hard pressed not to experience some heart-wrenching moments, especially when we see how Charlie, through no fault of his own, constantly become the butt of harsh comments, and him having a heart way larger than his physical stature.
Blessed with a wonderful soundtrack, I am growing to admire Peter Dinklage's performance, where he brings forth that quiet dignity of a character given receipt of the short end of the stick in life, and his Charlie's story arc turned out to be more engaging as you'll inevitably root for good things to happen in his gamble, versus the one that Jim has to win back, to which feminists out there will probably go up in arms over with how the finale was treated, treading very close to a combination of implausible coincidences and convenience. Still, I Love You Too is recommended, for its take on friendship, relationships, and how a network of family and friends help to provide some sanity check, as well as to pick you up when you fall down.