Adapted from the bestselling book that I somehow managed to never read comes a not-quite-rom-com. While the film contains what is clearly a moving and poignant narrative, virtually nothing else lives up to the potential of the story.
Jim Sturgess’ performance is hands down the best part of the film. His portrayal of a troubled youth turning into a man full of regrets is so perfectly pitched that the hair and make-up department is barely necessary; the entire process of age is seen in his body and eyes. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of Anne Hathaway. Despite being perfectly capable of playing the role she gets stuck with the effort of conjuring an English accent, a feat she almost manages. Unfortunately this comes to the detriment of every word she speaks, making her character painfully one-dimensional. It doesn’t help that she also plays the part with an affected awkwardness that makes her utterly abhorrent for at least the first thirty minutes of the film.
The pacing of the film is bizarre. While the film lends itself to an obvious and bold structure of short segments the years seem to blur into one, making the main narrative conceit all but disappear. It feels as if the film is embarrassed to be moving a year every five minutes and hides the transitions as subtle, overly discreet date markers. This results in the film feeling simultaneously rushed and stuffed to the gills. You feel like too much plot has happened in a short space of time only to realise that three years have subtly passed without so much as a pause in the music. There are sub-plots going on all over the place but the characters are pretty consistently forgettable and dull. Nothing really holds the attention of a viewer, the couple is inevitably going to end up together and so all the rest is just awkward suspension of their reconciliation. The whole film is tinged with a sad blandness. It serves the bill as something to watch on a date, just like so many have before it, but has no staying power in the annals of rom-coms or even roms.