MRR Review: "I Give It a Year"

Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

MRR Review: "I Give It a Year"

Rated: R (for sexual content, language, and some graphic nudity)
Length: 97 minutes
Release Date: August 9, 2013
Directed by: Dan Mazer
Genre: Comedy, Romance

"I Give It a Year" is an English not-so-romantic comedy about Nat and Josh, played by Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall, who get married after knowing each other for only seven months. Their friends and family have little hope that the whirlwind marriage will last, and the fact Nat and Josh have nothing in common certainly poses a big problem.

The film, written and directed by Dan Mazer, is perfect for lovers of quirky, dry humor. Nat is a starched, professional public relations executive, while Josh is a writer who sets his own hours, works from his living room sofa, and lives like a college student. The movie wastes no time on the couple's love affair, which is summarized visually during the opening song.

The film begins with Nat and Josh's wedding. The reception introduces Josh's best man, Danny, who's portrayed by Ricky Gervais' partner, Stephen Merchant. While most people have a filter between their brains and their mouths to prevent them from saying inappropriate things, Danny doesn't. At times, he seems to have some sort of disorder that renders him incapable of keeping his mouth shut or taking a hint. His moronic lack of decorum leads him to say whatever pops into his mind, which usually concerns sex. The humor provided by Danny balances the dry wit in the rest of the film.

Minnie Driver is excellent as Nat's sister, Naomi. After Danny's offensively embarrassing wedding toast, Naomi comments about the wedding to her husband saying, "I give it a year." Jason Flemyng plays Naomi's husband, Hugh. He and Naomi appear to despise each other, and Driver is wonderful in her depiction of a wife whose purpose in life is to debase her husband. Also part of Nat and Josh's entourage is Josh's ex-girlfriend, Chloe, who's played by Anna Faris. Her lingering deep feelings for Josh are made apparent by the look on her face during the wedding reception. After the reception, Josh's parents tell the couple that the first year of marriage is the worst, so they should focus on getting through that first year.

As if mere formalities, the wedding and reception are quickly dealt with. The next scene shows Nat and Josh in marriage counseling, only nine months into their marriage, complaining to their therapist about having nothing in common. The marriage counselor is a woman who seems to hate men. Played by Olivia Colman, the therapist brings a special sort of hilarity to "I Give It a Year."

As the movie proceeds, it uses the therapy session for structure, flashing back and forth in time to provide details about the couple's marriage as they undergo counseling. In addition to their differences, Nat and Josh have people in their lives with whom they actually are compatible. As Nat and Josh become increasingly exasperated with one another, Josh finds himself spending a lot of time with Chloe, and he realizes the chemistry between them is still very strong. Meanwhile, Nat takes on a handsome client named Guy who, for legitimate reasons, believes Nat is unattached. He develops an intense attraction to his new PR representative and eventually makes his feelings clear, at which point Nat confesses that she's married.

Soon after, Josh and Nat find themselves on a double date with Guy and Chloe. After an uncomfortable evening, Chloe confronts Josh by announcing her feelings for him. She declares that because Josh is married, she can no longer spend time with him. The same night, Nat begins to explore her feelings for Guy. Nat and Josh's therapist advises the couple to strive to make their marriage survive for a full year, which is only three months longer, and they agree. Nat and Josh focus their efforts on the marriage, making niceties and trying to please one another. During this time, Chloe and Guy continue to date.

Anyone expecting a film with a typical romantic-comedy format or typical American humor will be disappointed with "I Give It a Year." This movie appeals to an audience that has open expectations. It's funny from beginning to end, even during the final credits, for anyone who isn't expecting the type of humor provided by a Jennifer Aniston movie.

The audience isn't meant to become solely invested in the two main characters. The couple's circumstances are really the stars of this film. Director Dan Mazer forgoes the commonplace romanticism found in most movies of the same genre. Instead, the time is spent observing the problems between Nat and Josh and the couple's intentions to deal with those problems. The ending is refreshingly unexpected for anyone craving a little variety.

Rated 3 of 5