Nicolas Stoller’s The Five Year Engagement opened in the UK this weekend, a feature which sees the English-American film maker combine writing, production and direction alongside household names Judd Apatow and Jason Segal. In additional to the typical problems that most couples face when trying to organise a wedding, this romantic comedy explores the larger context of preparations, with Violet (played by Emily Blunt) being offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend a renowned school in Michigan, and Tom (Segal) realising how much of his career he’s given up.
After the opening scenes, The Five Year Engagement‘s slow plot doesn’t really come together until Tom and Violet move to Michigan. Once they arrive, the film develops into a true comedy and we begin to see the slapstick elements which are laugh out loud moments because of their absurdity. They are a little far-fetched, but the directors just about hold onto the story, and ultimately these are the finer points of the film.
Clever and engaging performances from Violet’s sister and brother-in-law (Alison Brie and Chris Pratt) are also among the positive points of the film, and the pair often steal the show from the lead cast. Despite making their names starring on American TV, Brie and Pratt’s roles in The Five Year Engagement suggest they will be just as successful forging careers on the silver screen.
Whilst all the couple’s troubles are carefully and sensitively explored with raw and emotive performances from Segal and Blunt, if it wasn’t for Tom’s actions or the interchanges between Violet and her sister, audiences may struggle to stay engaged with the drawn out and predictable main plot. The film also struggles with its run time, and at 124 minutes the film is far too long for a rom-com. The chemistry between the to-be-weds falls short of being convincing for the majority of the film and for all her talents, Blunt’s English accent sounded too dramatised pitched against Segal’s Californian drawl. Fellow Brit Rhys Ifans puts in a performance as the strange and lonely Winton, the lecturer who tries to win over Violet, but it is largely forgettable, especially when judged against the impact the character has on the plot.
Overall, it is the unusual elements that set this romantic comedy apart, raise it from the more predictable main storyline, and make it worth the price of admission. Worth it that is, provided you go on an Orange Wednesday ticket.