“I Give It a Year” begins with a quick-cut montage – Jessie Ware singing “Never Knew Love Like This Before” on the soundtrack – eyes meet across the room, infatuated couple tripping around the city by day, rainy romantic rendezvous by night, the first New Year’s Eve together, an engagement ring in Venice.
So far, just another silly love song of a movie– but be warned: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here anticipating a conventional romantic comedy. Director-writer Dan Mazer (“Borat”, “Brüno”, “Da Ali G Show”) has something more subversive in mind.
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The wedding ceremony portends what’s to come. An obstinate frog in the pastor’s throat induces a coughing spell that nearly prevents him from pronouncing the goo-goo eyed couple man and wife. Danny (Stephen Merchant), who views any and all social gatherings as potential Friars’ Club roasts, makes the most of his Best Man speech to the newlyweds.
The couple in question are Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall), whose happiest moments together could be behind them. No one sees the marriage lasting a year, and within nine months they’re in couples counseling. A burnt-out, pessimistic therapist (Olivia Colman) suggests they give it another three months. If things don’t work out by them, it’s time to say “Arrivederci!”
Nat and Josh have to overcome mutually annoying habits – her Mondegreening pop songs and his adolescent sense of humor are part of a long list – if they are going to find happiness ever after.
Complications abound. The families clash, as shown in Christmas dinner scenes recalled in counseling by each spouse. Josh’s American ex-girlfriend, Chloe (Anna Faris, whose hilarious threesome scene is worth the price of admission), is still in love with him. Another American, the handsome and successful Guy (Australian actor Simon Baker doing a great Yankee accent), becomes smitten with Nat.
“I Give It a Year” careens between romantic comedy and lowbrow farce. It’s a sometimes awkward ride, but there are enough very funny set pieces to make “I Give It a Year” worthwhile. Don’t go in expecting “Annie Hall” (1977) and you won’t be disappointed; if you hated “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (2006), you might want to pass.
Composer Ilan Eshker, who wrote the film score, has collaborated with Lang Lang, Coldplay, Amon Tobin and Annie Lennox.
See playdates and locations for “I Give It a Year” HERE.
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