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I Give It a Year (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

I Give It a Year


Starring Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Anna Faris, Simon Baker, Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, Stephen Merchant, Olivia Colman, Jane Asher, Terence Harvey, Nigel Planer, Clare Higgins, Alisha Bailey, Kerry Howard, Daisy Haggard and Joseph Millson.

Screenplay by Dan Mazer.

Directed by Dan Mazer.

Distributed by Magnolia Pictures. 97 minutes. Rated R.

The "I give it a year" in the title was a prediction of the bride's sister during the wedding that opens this British romantic comedy – which is neither romantic nor particularly funny.

At the time, since we are just meeting the couple, this statement feels a little bit harsh. Soon enough, though, it seems highly optimistic. It is shocking this couple ever made it to the altar.

They are totally wrong for each other and both rather horrible people in their own ways. He is goofy, self-centered and will always, always say the wrong thing at the exact wrong time. She is a frigid control freak and completely passive aggressive.

And, scarily, they are the most likeable people in the movie. Their family and friends and co-workers are even more awful.

Therefore we are expected to sit through almost two hours worrying about the state of a marriage that we really don't believe in. Break up or not? Who really cares?

We never saw them when they were actually in love – which they must have been at some point, right? – so we don't feel that much of a connection to them as a couple that we really have a rooting interest. The film stumbles badly just in starting off with the wedding day, throwing us into this relationship with no clue how we got there. (In fairness, at the opening there is a very brief montage showing the whirlwind romance, but it doesn't really connect.)

Not everyone who marries someone else is the other's soul mate, but the writer / director Dan Mazer seems to think that just showing them get married is enough to draw us in. (It may explain a bit that Mazer's previous romantic comedy screenwriting credits were for Borat and Brüno.) A little bit of the courtship, a bit of the romance, some kind gestures towards each other will give the relationship some kind of heft and resonance. As it is, getting married just seems like a plot point that was forced on the characters.

Also, I Give It a Year goes from the slightly odd theory that the first year of a marriage is the hardest and that it all gets better over time. Most people's experience has been the exact opposite – starts off all hot and heavy and eventually cools down. Haven't they ever heard of the honeymoon period?

This couple has no honeymoon period, they seem to be doubting their relationship during the reception. As is everyone else in their world. And, by extension, most of the audience.

Which is fine in itself. A married couple that is completely mortified by each other can be a fertile ground for comic situations. However, I Give It a Year is also not willing to totally give itself in to the darkness of the situation, so we don't get a black comedy of horrible relationships along the line of The Ugly Truth, As Good as It Gets, Addicted to Love, The War of the Roses or any Matthew McConaughey movie.

The couple are played by Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall, who are physically totally wrong for each other on top of their characters' obvious lack of chemistry. Simon Baker and Anna Faris play the temptations for each to stray – although out of the four of them, only Faris' character seems at all worthy of love. Even that slight worthiness is more because of her good-hearted neediness, rather than a more well-grounded romantic quality.

In the end, you don't really care if they find their happily ever after together or apart – or even if they find their happily ever after at all. Apathy toward the main characters is not really a good place for a romantic comedy to find itself. But here we are.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2013 All rights reserved. Posted: August 9, 2013.

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