It seems only fitting that a homegrown, locally set Scottish film should be the closing night Gala of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, one that paints the bustling neighbouring city of Glasgow in bright and peppy light.
Not Another Happy Ending, unsurprisingly an ironic title, is an indie romantic comedy where moments of whimsical fantasy are as much a focus as the requisite love interest. Its main character is a kooky writer named Jane (played by former Doctor Who assistant Karen Gillan) who has been struggling for years to get her first semi-autobiographical book published before a small publisher, run by the very French and fodder for the obvious romantic interest Tom (Stanley Weber), takes a chance on her.
After signing up to a two-book deal, the first of which is a huge success, Jane struggles to finish her second book and romantic tensions/disagreements mount between Tom and her. Meanwhile she tries to deal with her screenwriter boyfriend who isn’t exactly that supportive and her estranged father coming back into her life.
It’s one of those films that stands in the shadow of others both in its lead character – who’s set up to be this quirky Zooey Deschanel figure who dresses in vintage clothing and carries a bright red umbrella – to its general romantic comedy plot and the contrivances thereof. The likes of 500 Days of Summer and Ruby Sparks are specifically evoked while the plot plays out similarly to many other, more generic romantic comedies.
To be fair it has a lot more heart to it than just a simple Hollywood rom-com, even if it too often gets caught up in trying to be idiosyncratic every few minutes, such as when it morphs into comical fantasy by having Jane imagining herself talking to her lead character. Gillan is inherently likeable as Jane and her subplot about reconnecting with her father (played by the talented Gary Lewis) is genuinely moving and sees the movie at its most genuine.
The supporting characters are hit-and-miss – Henry Ian Cusick is a highlight as Jane’s pompous boyfriend who’s more interested in the sound of his own voice than talking than truly listening to her, Ian De Caestecker is funny as Tom’s nervy assistant Roddy, while Weber has a rather bland and generic character to play with in Tom, whose initially reluctant romance with Jane is as predictable as it is sentimental.
Ultimately Not Another Happy Ending is a charming bit of fluff to be enjoyed on a rainy afternoon when you’re spirits aren’t high. Its twee quirkiness might be like nails down a chalk board for some but for those who like their romantic comedies with flights of fancy and an eclectic soundtrack it’s perfectly enjoyable.
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