I have a soft spot for melodramatic British romantic comedies. Notting Hill, Sliding Doors, Love Actually, these are all films I’ll happy rewatch with a sure sense of enjoyment. Sadly, the aforementioned soft spot is not elastic enough to cushion the hard disappointment that is I Give It A Year.
Long time Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator Dan Mazer has his directorial debut with this film (which he also wrote) and the assembled cast is strong. Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall play Nat and Josh, a winsome, but hopelessly mismatched young married couple. He’s a struggling, oafish writer, she’s a stylish, successful businesswoman. Anna Faris is Chloe , Spall’s former girlfriend and Simon Baker plays Guy, a rich, casually handsome and implausibly single industrialist who wanders into Nat’s professional world. Supporting roles see Minnie Driver and Jason Flemyng and the quarrelling older couple and Stephen Merchant as Josh’s bumbling, verbally incontinent best friend.
Despite the strong cast, there’s not enough in any performance, or in the rather charmless script, to lift this film above the formula from which it was brewed. Everyone seems well cast, but there’s little chemistry on show, almost as if the actors are in bubbles where they can’t respond to each other’s cues. The laughs, when they do come, are largely isolated, or obvious, unsubtle turns of phrase or simple body humour.
All of which is a shame, because the cast, especially Byrne and Spall, are engaging and attractive in their roles. This could have been a delightful little film and while there are some laughs and fun moments to be had, it feels laboured, even at a modest 97 minutes.