Monday, 17 March 2014

Review - Not Another Happy Ending

Warning: minor spoilers ahead

     I had mixed feelings about Not Another Happy Ending. Before watching I was unsure whether it would be a typical romantic comedy, or something a little more indie and different; it turned out to be the former. Being about literature, set in Scotland and having Karen Gillan were good selling points for me, and it was decent, but nothing particularly outstanding.

      Regarding the plot and script, the film made that all too common mistake of revealing too much in the trailer, making it pretty easy to guess where everything was heading. There were plenty of clichés scattered throughout, for instance, the entire back story concerning Jane’s father. The back story does give her more depth as a character, which is always a good thing, but it was a plot line that has been used a million times before. A predictable plot isn’t always a bad thing though, as sometimes I’m in the mood for a light, easy film, without too much emotional drama or mental work required. The use of Jane’s writing career and the publishing industry made it a bit different however, as I haven’t seen that many films about the topic before. The slight twist at the end certainly caught me off guard though, but since it turned out to not really be a twist, it wound up feeling like a cheap attempt at avoiding the clichéd ending, which was redundant when it didn’t avoid it at all. Ultimately though, the plot is decent, predictable but plausible, with characters who are consistent in their behaviours.

    My biggest issue was in the script/directing choice made near the beginning, when we are seeing the early period of Jane and Tom’s relationship developing. The entire sequence plays out in a montage lasting only a few minutes, which doesn’t give nearly enough insight into the dynamics of their relationship. Montages can be useful for showing time passing, but this one came too early in the plot, or at least needed to be supplemented with a few more fully developed scenes. It made their relationship difficult to understand, especially the falling out that followed so soon afterwards. Over the course of the film, things became clearer, but starting so hazily was not a good move.

    The acting was pretty solid throughout the film though. Karen Gillan did not disappoint, playing Jane as pensive and emotional, but also quirky and awkward, bringing the character to life brightly enough to match her colourful wardrobe. Stanley Weber, as Tom, matched her in emotional intensity and the scenes where these characters clash are certainly their best. The exploration of cultural differences between their characters’ nationalities also added an extra dimension to the film. At times I got rather irritated with both characters, being rather too serious and overdramatic for my liking much of the time, but you can’t expect to like everybody all the time, and that includes fictional characters. I adored Darsie, Amy Mason playing her blunt honesty, wit and sarcasm excellently; a breath of fresh air to contrast with Jane’s melancholic tendencies, although her character’s role as a hallucination was a little jarring in a film that I assumed to be entirely realistic until she appeared. Iain de Caestecker, as Roddy, is brilliant in providing comic relief in spades, countering the intensity of the lead roles, and had me cracking up for many of his scenes, especially when “teaching” his class. My only complaint was that his interaction with Nicola, played by the wonderful Freya Mavor, was not utilised enough, nor was the character of Nicola overall. If Jane and Tom’s beginnings were rushed, Roddy and Nicola’s were almost skipped entirely.

     Overall, this is an enjoyable film, albeit nothing special. It has a few defining traits, in an attempt to be different, such as the Scottish setting, the literary backdrop and the twist-that’s-not-really-a-twist but you certainly won’t see coming, but the general plot is still easy enough to figure out. However, the flaws in the plot are tempered with a cast that is strong and convincing. A good choice if you’re in the mood for an easy watch, peppered with drama, romance and comedy.


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