Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Give It A Year

Happy Together

The trailer alas put in all the best comical bits from the film, so if you haven't seen the trailer yet, don't. Otherwise all that's left in this romantic comedy, is the romance portion only, which begins with the marriage between the leading characters, and I suppose we can agree that sometimes that will suck all romanticism from the film. Which it clearly did.

It's quite an unconventional tale of romance given the leading characters Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne) having taken their vows of matrimony early on, before slowly finding out that their seven month whirlwind romance was clearly insufficient to weather the storm in their relationship any further. Just as how films featuring plane crashes won't make for comfortable viewing for inflight entertainment, so does this film for anyone intending to get hitched anytime soon. It's a film that shows how a marriage can just deteriorate from the lack of communication and honesty, when the initial spark of romance and lust wear out, and what's left is the sinking feeling that you're going to be with someone forever. And forever as it turns out, is an incredibly long time.

Written and directed by Dan Mazer, I Give It a Year began brightly with all the typical trappings of an English film, with plenty of wit on display, and the title coming from expectations that the marriage between the newlyweds wouldn't last more than a year. And we're taken on a trip both down memory lane to examine just how the flashing warning lights and alarm bells have been sounded, before taking stock on what the couple needed to do to salvage their marriage, if they truly want to, though more importantly whether they are with the right person - the one they couldn't live without. And things aren't easy when

It's easy to lay blame in relationships that don't work out, when there are opportunities that are always readily available for that quick flirt, or fling. So you the audience are given that opportunity to exercise and pass judgement, which would make for interesting post-show conversations with anyone you're watching this with, perhaps just to see where the moral lines get drawn. For Josh, there's his ex girlfriend Chloe (Anna Farris, who looked really aged here) with whom he never really had a clean break before meeting his wife, and together they still have that emotional attachment that's yet to be severed. When they each face issues both professionally and personally, they know who to turn to automatically. And having to confess feelings to Chloe and not his wife, is something that's not quite right.

And in the other corner, Nat listens to her colleagues' goading to remove her wedding ring when delivering their sales pitch to an American scion Guy (Simon Baker), an easy qualification for any eligible bachelor's list, and true to form, Guy sees Nat as someone with whom he can connect to both professionally and personally as well. The deception here was something one can easily frown upon, but as the narrative goes, again there's no black and white in issues like these, only shades of grey which you can use to decide one's personal limits and values. Rafe Spall and Rose Byrne play their roles with aplomb, especially in scenes together that highlight more of their differences than similarities, making it obviously clear that they're both heading toward more disasters as the story wore on.

Some of the best scenes in the film happen to be the highlight of the negativity within ourselves, dealing with deceit and hypocrisy, playing foolish games and denying ourselves of our true feelings, often with casualties. Scenes in which all four characters of Josh, Nat, Chloe and Guy coming together are filled with awkwardness and hidden intentions and meaning, that makes it engaging in a What If scenario. Otherwise, if you're tired with the games these adults play, there's always the support caricatures to look forward to, such as those played by Minnie Driver, Jason Flemying, and especially Stephen Merchant, whose role is to prop up the film's comedic department with tons of bawdy jokes, some of which fall flat to keep in line with his character.

I Give It a Year is the anti-thesis of marriage, so you have been warned that this romantic comedy does seem a little bit twisted with its unconventional take on a tale about forcing a romance with the wrong person, while failing to recognize one's happiness truly lies somewhere else. How it all plays out toward the end may be a little bit unrealistic and a tad too inconvenient, but by that time you'd realize Mazer was grasping for anything that can bring this story to a close.

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