Review: ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ (MA) ? ? ? ½

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DESPITE several things to quibble about, the 124 minutes of Nicholas Stoller’s film, co-written with lead actor Jason Segal, bring wit and strong performances that take us sufficiently distant from the beaten rom-com path to reward a visit.

Meeting at a San Francisco New Year’s Eve Party, Violet, aspiring to admission to Michigan U to do a doctorate in psychology, and restaurant sous-chef Tom realise before next day dawns, as couples often do, that it’s love. They are indeed well suited for each other, but the film is not about to swamp us with sweetness, light and harmony.

Violet and Tom postpone marriage while they negotiate the obstacle course of family intrusions into the relationship, resolving career issues, planning for the customary cultural panoply of nuptial ceremonial, external attempts to steal them away from the relationship. The film’s prime virtue is the freshness with which it deals with these familiar issues of the genre.

There’s much intelligent writing scattered through the film, giving useful opportunities for Emily Blunt, spectacular as Violet, and Segal as Tom to shake the screen with their confrontations, supported by Rhys Ifans as Violet’s academic supervisor, Alison Brie as her sister and Jacki Weaver in her first Hollywood role as their mother.

The film extends an invitation to play your own mind game identifying its virtues and defects before deciding that whatever the score, it’s agreeably entertaining and intelligent.

At Greater Union

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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