A charming and constantly amusing jaunt through a relationship that begins to stall when the prospect of marriage is placed on the table.
When is the last time you saw a Hollywood comedy that didn’t automatically assume that adult relationships – hetrosexual or otherwise – are in a constant, inexorable drift towards houses, kids, garden parties, people carriers, wine cellars, ‘Le Chat Noir’ posters and all those things that equate to conventional marital bliss?
It’s rare to see a film that doesn’t presuppose that when the time is right, the female partner will relinquish her professional aspirations with an oversized grin on her face in order to bring up baby while he’s out sweating for a crust.
Well, what ever minor structural problems Nicholas Stoller’s The Five-Year Engagement suffers from, it’s more than forgiven for its enlightened view of a contemporary relationship where it’s the female partner who gets to go to work.
Emily Blunt, proving she is a comic actress par excellence, is Violet, the happy-go-lucky, London-born, San Francisco-based academic who meets cute with Tom (a hotshot chef played by Jason Segel) at a New Year’s Eve soiree. A year later, marriage is proposed by him and accepted by her.
Only, a coveted research position at the University of Michigan becomes available, so he decides to quit his job and join his fiancé out east. The wedding is placed on the back burner, and as the employment situation becomes more and more complicated, their nuptials slip further and further away from them.
There’s a ring of truth about the film’s episodic nature, as it’s about a couple who have to constantly readjust to new situations that are not always ideal for their partner. As Violet impresses with her nifty psychological case studies (by simply avoiding masturbation and covering subjects in blood and feathers), she courts the attentions of her louche Welsh professor, Rhys Ifans.
Tom never manages to find his feet, reduced to plating up sandwiches at a local deli and falling in with a local deer hunting crowd. There’s never any doubt that the pair will eventually weather their romantic storm, but what is surprising and satisfying is how funny, humane and modern their journey is.
Another comedy from the Apatow stable, so always worth a peek.
Hardly reinvents the comic wheel, but it consistently funny while examining relationships from a new, more modern perspective.
It’s not one that you’d need to see again and again, but it does leave a very sweet taste in the mouth.