Friday, May 11, 2012

Nicholas Stoller: The Five-Year Engagement

Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, The Five Year Engagement, Universal Pictures, 2012.

With a singular forcefulness, director Nicholas Stoller evolves from the funny diversions of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek, and crafts an almost entirely transporting rom-com, albeit one with the complexities of everyday life. Stoller finding the balance between scene and seen gifts this little charmer with a heart of gold.

Jason Segel returns in loveable schlub mode, co-writing with Stoller once again. They create a character who displays all of Segel's star persona's neuroses, yet the way they bring the character to life before us gives him a fresh slant, a deeper element, which recalls his recent triumphant performance in Jeff who lives at home. His likeability and immutabilty cross paths for something almost Alvy.

Emily Blunt brings a fresh fierceness to our heroine which feels so alive. The chemistry between she and Segel is palpable, it works. Their banter is delicious. The plot, a soup of rom-com cliches regarding the obstacles in the way of a modern couple, as their engagement drags on for years (five to be exact), works because of the joy brought forth by all involved. We genuinely care about these characters.

Javier Aguirresarobe lights the proceedings with a gossamer power reminiscent of the light of love. The narrative structure, voice over and flashback, is playful and welcomed. The supporting cast is noteworthy, especially Chris Pratt as Segel's immature buddy. A little could have been trimmed here and there; the narrative feels stretched in spots.

What Stoller has pulled off here is a near miraculous thing; a romantic-comedy so far and above most others as to make you swoon. The simple act of creating a film to tell a story and connect to other people on a human level is rediscovered here; I am excited for his next film.

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