An unpretentious Brit-flick distinguished by a great cast, This Year's Love
is writer-director David Kane's wry, funny study of six singletons in search of something--possibly love, possibly just sex--that will help them make sense of an untidy world. Aside from the acting, the film's strongest feature is its unflinching realism. The setting is North London's Camden Lock, an area that is in equal parts ultra-trendy and horrendously squalid. The characters reflect the locale: a circle of youthful drop-outs, wannabes and never-have-beens united in their common desire to surmount loneliness and find that elusive "perfect match". The central figures are newlyweds Danny and Hannah (the wonderful Douglas Henshall and Catherine McCormack) and the film in essence concerns itself with the fallout from the spectacular and rapid disintegration of their marriage. Danny first hooks up with cleaner-cum-nightclub singer Mary (a marvellously self-deprecating Kathy Burke), while Hannah finds lecherous womaniser Cameron (an unwashed Dougray Scott). Cameron's flatmate Liam (Ian Hart) fails to impress posh single mum Sophie (Jennifer Ehle in dreadlocks), who goes on to reject Danny and Cameron in turn, while Liam becomes dangerously obsessed by Hannah then Mary. So the merry-go-round of relationship swapping, unlikely coincidences and bittersweet life-lessons turns full circle.
David Kane's comic dialogue is witheringly sharp, the situations (aside from all the coincidental meetings) are well-observed and the characters sympathetically three-dimensional (helped in no small part by the quality of the ensemble cast). The frequently hilarious comedy is tempered by an underlying despair: if it's not exactly Brassed Off or The Full Monty for neurotic, self-obsessed metropolitans, it's a film that's at least happy to exist in the same genre and achieves the same poignant empathy with its characters. The soundtrack is great, too. Imagine that the cast of Trainspotting gate-crashed Four Weddings and a Funeral and the result would be This Year's Love.
On the DVD: Short on-set interviews with the principals and a promotional featurette are supplemented by a sequence of unedited behind-the-scenes footage. The film itself is presented in a good-looking anamorphic (16:9) print. --Mark Walker
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Anamorphic Widescreen, Cast/Crew Interview(s), Featurette, Interactive Menu, Making Of, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: The big-screen debut from Scottish stage director David Kane, This Year's Love is a comedy about the romantic misadventures of six young people in Camden, North London. The marriage of tattoo artist Danny (Douglas Hanshall) and dressmaker Hannah (Catherine McCormack) gets off to a less-than-inspiring start when Danny finds out Hannah has already been fooling around with a friend's husband, so Danny takes a walk and Hannah splits with a friend to get drunk. At the airport, where the newlyweds were supposed to leave for a honeymoon, Danny meets a cleaning woman named Mary (Kathy Burke) and is immediately infatuated, while Hannah is picked up by a scruffy artist named Cameron (Dougray Scott). Elsewhere, Liam (Ian Hart), a geeky comic-art enthusiast who shares an apartment with Cameron, finds romance with Sophie (Jennifer Ehle), a single mother and full-time neurotic. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: British Independent Film Awards, ...This Year's Love