I Give It a Year

Directed by Dan Mazer. Starring Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Anna Faris, Simon Baker, Stephen Merchant, Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, Jane Asher, Olivia Colman 16 cert, general release, 97 min

Directed by Dan Mazer. Starring Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Anna Faris, Simon Baker, Stephen Merchant, Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, Jane Asher, Olivia Colman 16 cert, general release, 97 min

Fri, Feb 8, 2013, 00:00

Directed by Dan Mazer. Starring Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Anna Faris, Simon Baker, Stephen Merchant, Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, Jane Asher, Olivia Colman 16 cert, general release, 97 min

What are the current rules on (oh Lord, that word) “spoilers“? We are, surely, permitted to reveal information put about by the writer and director.

In a recent article for the Guardian, Dan Mazer, creator of this curious misfire, described it as “a romantic comedy about people splitting up”. Sure enough, following a perfunctory montage involving cute meetings and cuter proposals, Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall launch themselves into an orgy of bickering, sneering, scowling and low behaviour.

It looks as if Mr Mazer was getting his retaliation in first. Approach the film (as this reviewer did) without that foreknowledge and it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Produced by Working Title, keepers of the Richard Curtis ermine, I Give It a Year hits all the expected buttons. Nodding towards Four Weddings and a Funeral, the picture begins with Stephen Merchant (offering an extended cameo that begins promisingly before greatly outstaying its welcome) delivering a delightfully unsuitable best man’s speech at the couple’s nuptials.

Both participants have glamorous jobs: Rafe writes novels; Rose does something in high-end marketing. They live in a predictably tasty corner of an imaginary London. Solid performers such as Olivia Colman (ludicrous relationship advisor), Minnie Driver (nasty wife to flattened husband) and Alex Macqueen (route-one comedy vicar) help further balance the familiar Working Title equation.

In short, we are, from the off, being pointed towards an inevitable narrative arc: the lovely couple fall in love, fall out of love and – following a rush to the terminus – fall back together again. Unfortunately, Byrne and Spall (good actors doing their best) seem so terminally unsuited and so relentlessly unpleasant that one rapidly ceases to care about the state of their puzzling relationship.

“But I thought she was going to wind up with that rich snob,” Dr Hibbert, trapped in front of a Julia Roberts flick called Love Is Nice, famously moaned in an early episode of The Simpsons. Mazer does, indeed, seem to be pushing us in that direction. But everything else in his otherwise conventional picture argues for a conventional ending.

A bafflingly misguided experiment.

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