After a whirlwind seven months together, Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne) decide to tie the knot. It probably doesn’t bode well for the union that during the wedding ceremony the priest can’t pronounce them ‘husband and wife’ without nearly coughing up a lung, and Nat’s sister Naomi (the wonderful Minnie Driver) murmurs to her husband ‘”I give it a year.” before the two are able to kiss and seal the deal. Add in a rather awkward and uncomfortable best man toast by Danny (Stephen Merchant) and you kind of start to realize that this marriage is not starting off on the right foot.
Fast forward a couple of months and it’s clear that Josh and Nat are struggling. The movie paces itself by shifting between Josh and Nat visiting a marriage counselor, as they’ve made a commitment to make the marriage work, and ‘flashbacks’ to the moments in their marriage that led them to the counselor in the first place.
Other than the usual marriage issues that most couples experience (not replacing the toilet paper roll, letting the trash bin run over, etc.), Josh and Nat find one another’s quirky personality traits to be out and out annoying, rather than charming or cute. Not helping matters is the inclusion of Nat’s hunky new client Guy (Simon Baker), and Josh’s ex-girlfriend turned confidant, Chloe (Anna Faris).
It seems pretty clear that Josh is meant to be with Chloe, and Nat with Guy based on personalities alone, but the couple seem afraid of failure (and hurting each other’s feelings) and agree to follow their counselor’s suggestion to do whatever it takes to hit the one year mark in their marriage. Given that this is a romantic comedy, I suppose the consensus is that they’ll make it, while realizing they are in love and want to make their marriage work, but the movie certainly keeps you guessing, which I appreciated.
Essentially you find yourself watching a marriage unravel as each spouse lives out their own separate rom-com with other people, tropes included, and concluding with, of course, a run through the rain to declare….well, it’s not love, exactly. But it’s extremely on the nose and pokes fun at the expected happily ever afters that you often find in a romantic comedy.
The humor pushed a lot of boundaries, but that’s what British humor is meant to do. The cast was fabulous with plenty of chemistry, and honestly, I could watch Stephen Merchant in just about anything if he promises to make just about every scene as uncomfortable as possible. Could I have done without some of the full-frontal nudity? Eh, probably. But I would still recommend I Give It A Year to any rom-com fan. Even those who dislike the genre will probably find some entertaining laughs in this movie. It’s still a romantic comedy at heart, but it’s definitely a movie that is poking fun at what romantic comedies are, giving us a more realistic view at what really happens after the happily ever after endings.