Marketed strongly with ‘from the producers of Love Actually and Notting Hill’, Working Title bring us yet another Brit rom-com; ‘I Give It A Year’ starring Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall as the anti rom-com couple Nat & Josh, as they slog their way through the first year of a marriage that seems doomed even before it’s begun. While the leads bundle through unhappily looking for a way out of a loveless love-life, the supporting cast are allowed to rise to the top, in particular Stephen Merchant and Olivia Colman as Best Man and marriage councillor respectively.
For a film that is so obviously trying to go against the grain of the tried and tested formula of the genre, it winds up pretty much as you would expect, featuring a sleazy co-worker, awkward in-law moments and the mad dash to the train station in the pouring rain. The poster even has the white background/red typeface combo that seems oh so familiar. By bringing in controversial Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator, Dan Mazer, into the director’s chair, it escapes these clichés at times and finds moments of quirky brilliance where the balance between the two contrasting styles is almost perfect. There is one scene which sees Anna Faris’ in an embarrassing threesome which plays like a bad game of Twister that is very reminiscent of the Borat naked fight scene, although it is admittedly a lot easier on the eye.
In a breakthrough period of his career which has seen him pinch supporting roles in Prometheus and Life of Pi, Rafe Spall tries his best in the ‘Hugh Grant’ role, as stereotypical struggling writer type, trying to be ‘nice’ and ‘cool’ simultaneously and getting it wrong every time If you’ve ever seen him starring in Channel 4’s sitcom ‘Pete Versus Life’, here he is Pete again but with shorter hair. He does as well as can be expected in a plot lacking any imagination and to me, came across as quite likeable whereas co-star Rose Byrne was so anonymous that I can barely remember what she looks like. Instead, it’ll be the ensemble supporting stars which will be remembered such as Tim Key, Nigel Planer and Olivia Colman who all have fantastic segments, as well as Stephen Merchant, as the cringy idiot mate, who would’ve easily walked away with the film if all his best gags hadn’t been gobbled up by the trailers.
As the anti rom-com, IGIAY loses sight of what it making fun of halfway through and becomes a parody of itself in the closing third, though that is not too say it didn’t make me laugh. This film won’t win any awards or break records, but as a Friday night film, accompanied by a Nandos and a few drinks, it’ll do nicely.