The Five Year Engagement
A lack of comedy lets down an unexpectedly truthful treatment of romance
Following in the footsteps of last year’s excellent Bridesmaids, The Five Year Engagement is the latest romantic comedy from the seemingly endless Judd Apatow production line. Reuniting the Forgetting Sarah Marshall team of writer/director Nicolas Stoller and writer/star Jason Segel, producer Apatow assembles all the elements correctly, right down to the ideal leading lady for Segel in Emily Blunt. What’s missing, however, are the broad comic set pieces which made Bridesmaids such a smash.
Tom (Segal) and Violet (Blunt) are a happy, affectionate couple with a long married life to look forward to. After a romantic proposal during a New Year celebration in San Francisco, wedding bells seem tantalizingly close, until Violet is offered a post at the University of Michigan. Tom, a sous chef, reluctantly puts his career prospects aside to go with her, but when Violet’s two year tenure lasts longer than expected, the tensions in their relationship lead to mutual infidelities.
Apatow’s output has always offered admirable sophistication about relationships, even if hidden behind the raunch of Knocked Up or Superbad. The Five Year Engagement adheres to the formula, spiced with predictable smatterings of dirty talk and male nudity, but there’s something missing. On the plus side, Segel and Blunt are charming as ever, and an accomplished supporting cast includes Chris Pratt as Tom’s incidental bromance Alex and Rhys Ifans as Violet’s lecherous mentor. And there’s a genuine pathos about Tom and Violet’s failure to get their lives on track that imbues Stoller’s film with real dramatic weight.
Unfortunately, without the required laughs, that hefty dramatic weight doesn’t shift quickly enough over a two hour plus running time. It’s a shame that one of the few decent rom-coms in recent memory should lack enough comedy to balance out the unexpectedly truthful treatment of romance.
General release from Fri 22 Jun.