I give it a three


Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
The Conversation /
March 07, 2013 /

Click here to view original /

[Warning! Warning! This article contains an – albeit predictable – spoiler]

Films are too often dubbed contemporary, modern. Of the Zeitgeist, at the vanguard. Normally I’d roll my eyes at such a description but I’m going to dub I’d Give it a Year A Very Modern Rom-Com.

I’m undecided of course, as to whether this is a compliment.

The Brits do murder well. I’ll always pick a British stab at fictional crime over an American offering. I’m less convinced however, about the British humour thing. For every The Office there’s a host of episodes of ‘Allo ‘Allo and Steptoe and Son and some nonsense with sleazy creeps asking Mrs Slocombe about her pussy.

And it was the very Britishness of the film – encapsulated by Stephen Merchant’s unfunny and exhaustingly crude barbs – that made me give it a three. Out of ten.

The bawdy humour however, wasn’t what made it modern. In fact, the humour all felt very done and dated. Rather, it was the cutting edge presentation of relationships as thoroughly disposable that made it such.

In my book on infidelity, I had a chapter about the economics of cheating. One theory I posited was that when we’ve all been so primed to go to market to solve our problems – to buy stuff to fix whatever ails us – that it’s no surprise that this attitude has pervaded our romantic lives. That the second we get bored, the second that something – someone – fails to satisfy us or, God forbid, to complete us, then we’re back scouting for newer thrills.

In I Give it A Year, newlyweds Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) are on shaky ground. It isn’t quite guidance they seek from “therapist” (Olivia Colman) – as unprofessional a dolt as there ever was – rather the sessions simply provide an uncomfortable backdrop for disjointed scenes of “unravelling” romance.

Days after seeing the film and I’m really not sure what was so bad about the marriage. I mean, he found her mondegreens grating and she found him vaguely uncouth. Grounds enough for divorce? Yeah, I’m not so sure.

And does this really matter?

At the end of the film the two fall – quite literally and oh so cheesily – into the arms of new people. Without even a skerrick of compunction.

And I think this makes the film both modern and troublesome.

I’m the last person who would suggest “staying the course” in an unhappy anything let alone marriage. And yet – and perhaps it’s the romantic in me – finds it pretty heinous that at the first sign of trouble, at the first of the easing of ecstasy, an exit is sought.

And this I found to be modern and also quite a bit irritating.

For all it’s unfunniness and grating performances, I Give it a Year does raise the interesting question about whether contemporary romance – and the future of romantic comedies – is as much about getting out of love as getting into it. And whether that’s any course for terror. Or celebration.

© Lauren Rosewarne