Not Another Happy Ending (2013)

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More than just a time-traveller’s assistant? When Guardians of the Galaxy comes out later this year, then we’ll know for sure. But for the moment, the jury is still out…

Whether Karen Gillan can play a role other than the one for which she has become famous, that of one Amy Pond in Doctor Who, it is probably too soon to call, as her recent career has been a bit of a one trick pony. Such would seem her desire to break away from these shackles and do something a little less expected.

The simple love story, following the life of novelist Jane Lockhart (Gillan) as she smashes into and stumbles through writers block when trying to complete her second novel, navigating her way through an unrealised, unrequested, unrequired relationship with her publisher, played by the impossibly beautiful Stanley Weber, is not as fulfilling as it clearly wants to be. This film wants to warm you, cuddle you and make you feel ohhhh just sooo lovely.

Not Another Happy Ending will remind you, in some small way at least, almost immediately of Richard Curtis and his dalliance with Hugh Grant. It’s all so very polite, so very clean, so very measured. Gillan’s hair is so perfect, her make-up flawless, her eyes all sparkly. Setting the scene in Glasgow, the film feels like it’s championing all that creative Scotland has. And if this is it (it really isn’t), then frankly, they are as buggered as Ally McCoist was, when he took on the Rangers job. There is more chance of getting Alex Salmond to admit that maybe a vote to stay British is not such a bad idea after all, than there apparently is of getting cinematic satisfaction here.

It’s nice enough, of course, but throwing its quirky hat into the ring of British romantic comedy is a bold move, especially without superlative scripting and delivery, both of which areas here, whilst not devoid of talent, do not provide too much spark. The film is, on occasion, almost sterile, where it should ramp up the heartstring tugging. Weber, brutally, appears to have got the gig purely on his looks though he does try to pull the wool over the eyes of the audience that he is little more than eye candy and even succeeds from time to time.

Gillan is lovely and the sole reason anyone would bother giving this a viewing. The camera loves her and she seems to have embodied the character of Jane quite easily. She does some good things with a script that is beneath her really and given her previous associations, it is not surprising that her performance is maybe marred more by what she is asked to say, rather than how she says it.

At its barely beating heart, there is a soul of a story here that is left floundering by some odd casting choices and a script that highlights everything that is great in other more familiar production with far fewer shortcomings. As a standalone project, it is great to see the Scottish film industry producing undeniably accomplished technical work and the production itself is very impressive, but purely as a story about love, that the audience is supposed to be able to engage with and take to its bosom, it is a bit of a disappointment. I expect Gillan to go from strength to strength, with this probably going down in history as a tiny hiccup in what will continue to be a stellar career.

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