I Give It a Year

A year? Too long for this couple...

I Give it a Year


Written and directed by Dan Mazer. Starring Simon Baker, Rose Byrne, Anna Faris, Minnie Driver, Jason Flemyng, Rafe Spall, Lee Asquith-Coe, Stephen Merchant, Olivia Colman, Anna Skellern.

I Give it a Year opens with a dialogue-less montage charting the romance between a young English couple that culminates in their wedding. For the next 90 minutes, the film charts the deterioration of their relationship, starting with some minor quibbles and eventually turning into some full-blown shouting matches. Comedy!

Because we barely meet these people before the breakdown begins, there’s never any rooting interest in seeing them staying together; it doesn’t help that – despite being played by the usually likable Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall – this couple is generally repulsive; not only do we not want them to stay together, we don’t want them to end up with anyone else, either.

But what can I say: I laughed more than few times during I Give it a Year, a surprisingly high amount considering my distaste for its characters. The film is frequently funny, and occasionally laugh-out-loud so, though the jokes are front-loaded in in the first half and the climax really starts to drag. That’s going to be enough for most audiences, and why not: the amount of genuinely funny mainstream comedies these days numbers in the single digits, yearly. 

Byrne is Nat, a high-powered marketing executive; Spall is Josh, a writer struggling to produce his second novel. They’re an unlikely couple, but the film never gives them a real connection: there’s never any base for us to buy into why these two are or should be together. Instead, the film takes the easy way out, and only some obnoxious soundtrack cues inform us of who should arbitrarily end up with who. 

The romance angle, in other words, is a complete bust. Byrne was surprisingly sympathetic in a similar role in Bridesmaids, and Spall has been likable in small roles in One Day, Anonymous, and Life of Pi. Here, however, they both just grate on the nerves: there’s a wonderful moment towards the end when the film has a chance to tell these characters where they belong, but the script chickens out in predictable fashion.

But that’s only half of a rom-com. The comedy here generally works, in ribald, gross-out Judd Apatow style; just don’t go in expecting refined British humor. It’s all down to the timing: we’ve seen the old nude-photos-in-the-slideshow routine, but here it’s pulled off with aplomb, and becomes comically suspenseful. 

A terrific supporting cast helps to anchor the film: Minnie Driver and Jason Flemyng portray a married couple who have stuck through it despite the bumps over the years; Stephen Merchant (Extras, Hall Pass) does his usual smarmy idiot act; Anna Faris and Simon Baker are ex- and potential suitors; and even Terence Harvey and Jane Asher show up, as Nat’s parents.

I Give it a Year was written and directed by Dan Mazar, who worked with Sacha Baron Cohen on Da Ali G Show, Borat, and Brüno; those projects not only contained a high number of laughs, but were highly inventive in design, too – something that escapes this generally formulaic, much-too-predictable rom-com.

Also opening: 

  • Jurassic Park (showtimes | IMDb), a Czech-dubbed, 3D re-release of the Steven Spielberg classic.
  • Twice Born (showtimes | IMDb), an Italian-Spanish drama starring Penélope Cruz, Emile Hirsch, and Jane Birkin. Screening in Italian and Bosnian with Czech subtitles.
  • My Dog Killer (showtimes), a Czech drama from director Mira Fornayová. Screening in Czech.
  • Lore (showtimes | IMDb), a WWII thriller from director Cate Shortland. Screening in German with Czech subtitles.

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