British rom-com from the writer of Borat (making his directorial debut) looking at the rocky first year of marriage for a pair of newlyweds. Stars Stephen Merchant, Minnie Driver, Rose Byrne and Anna Faris. Now playing nationwide.
Earning a reputation as a deviant mockumentary writer alongside Sacha Baron Cohen, Dan Mazer also gives his directing chops a go here with this Brit rom-com, examining the relevance of romance in holy matrimony.
Rose Byrne plays it perfectly straight as the highly-strung, career-driven Nat, newly married to Rafe Spall’s writer-in-limbo Josh. Temptation threatens to detach their already frail union as Josh is reignited by an old flame (Anna Faris in an adorable, toned-down role) while Nat is introduced to a new one (Simon Baker’s Guy, a walking business suit).
The main issue is that we’re never engrossed into the newlyweds’ supposed chemistry, brushed away by a minute-long montage at the start. After the opening titles, it’s all downhill as Nat grows increasingly irked by Josh’s buffoonery – and you won’t blame her. He’s an unlikeable douche.
Luckily, the film earns laughs with some well-executed set-pieces, such as Guy’s attempt to woo Nat with doves and a confused violinist or Faris’ introduction to the awkward mechanics of a surprise menajahtwa. Some scenes nosedive into lazy crassness however – specifically those involving Olivia Colman’s mentally unstable marriage counsellor or the one involving the in-laws and an X-rated iPad photo gallery – but I suppose this comes as no surprise given Mazer’s filmography.
Minnie Driver boosts the material up a notch, capturing the comedic peak of dean-pan pessimism as Nat’s wedlock-weakened sister – acting as a sort of ‘ghost of nuptial future’. The film awkwardly takes a step back to let Stephen Merchant do his thing, but there’s a good reason for that: he’s damn funny.