I Give It a Year

Directed By: Dan Mazer

Starring: Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Anna Faris, Simon Baker, Stephen Merchant, Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, and Olivia Colman

In my review of Drinking Buddies recently, I wrote about the fact that romance films are an endangered species.  Naturally, a romantic comedy hits theaters as soon as I say that.  The British rom com I Give It a Year has made its way across the pond, and I just have to say that I never knew love like this before.  It's a quirky film that shows that marriage isn't for everyone, but love is.  At the same time, it's fairly bizarre because it glamorizes the benefits of divorce and getting away from the person you vowed to love 'til death do you part.  As I said, I never knew love like this before on the big screen.

Successful advertising exec Nat (Rose Byrne) and unsuccessful author Josh (Rafe Spall) meet at a party, and romance ensues instantly.  Seven months later, they're at the steps of the altar taking their vows and saying "I do".  All their family and friends believe that they rushed into marriage, especially Nat's sister Naomi (Minnie Driver) and Josh's best man Dan (Stephen Merchant).  Considering the fact that Nat and Josh are in counseling nine months later, they may be right.  The newlyweds are trying their hardest to salvage a marriage that quickly soured.  The film gives us snapshots of their first nine months together after the wedding festivities.

After the honeymoon, Nat and Josh get back to work, and their lives begin moving in separate directions.  For her part, Nat is getting new clients and bringing home the bacon.  Josh, on the other hand, is struggling with writer's block and sitting on their couch at home.  Their disparate careers and places in society begin to become a sore spot in their marriage.  They're living in two different worlds, so much so that they begin to long for a life apart from one another.  In fact, Nat begins flirting with Guy Harraps (Simon Baker), one of her new clients and heir to a major solvents company.  As things get steamier between the two, Nat must decide whether she wants the sturdy, reliable Volvo Josh or the sleek, rich Ferrari Guy.  Meanwhile, Josh must decide between staying his wife Nat and being with Chloe (Anna Faris), the girl who got away.

I Give It a Year is one bipolar romantic comedy.  The beginning and end of this movie are really something special.  Director Dan Mazer gives us pure hilarity.  There's a carefree yet warm and fuzzy tone that's characteristic of some of the best rom coms.  There's an awesome soundtrack featuring good tunes like "Never Knew Love Like This Before", "It Takes Two" and "Sweet Dreams".  All that being said, what makes the film great at times is the supporting cast, particularly Stephen Merchant and Minnie Driver.  With Merchant making more inappropriate comments than appropriate ones and Driver delivering plenty of caustic remarks, they bring the laughs whenever they’re on screen.  They’re the most valuable cast members in the film.

Then there's the other part of I Give It a Year, everything else in the middle.  During this part of the film, Mazer and his cast go through the motions of the romantic melodrama necessary to move the plot forward, and it's honestly a bore.  The fun, happy spirit of the film is lost somewhere in this part of the movie.  The comedy is lost.  The reason for which this lull persists is that Mazer benches his strongest comedic actors — Merchant and Driver.  Without them, we're left to fairly straightforward performances from Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall in a rapidly deteriorating marriage.  The palpable sizzle they have with co-stars Simon Baker and Anna Faris respectively is not enough to carry the film.  In fact, it's partially why this film is a strange tale of crisscrossed lovers.

Having a great start and a great end is not enough to make I Give It a Year great.  There were moments I nearly cried from laughter and moments I nearly dozed off from boredom, and that does cost the film.  All in all though, I enjoyed the movie and have to give this British romantic comedy a 0.06% rating.  Have a few glasses of Albariño with this one.