Bearing similarities to films such as Like Crazy and Drinking Buddies, in its earnest and authentic portrayal of romance and relationships, our lovebirds in this instance, are Noel (Dylan Edwards) and Cherie (Laura Haddock), who meet in somewhat strenuous circumstances, when the former is venting his emotions by screaming tirelessly into the wind. Though unsure at first – weary of falling in love following a recent break-up – the pair soon begin to double date with friends Mandi (Mandeep Dhillon) and Steve (Ian Smith), and it becomes increasingly apparent that they may have feelings for one another after all.
In order to emotionally invest in a film of this ilk, it’s imperative we believe in the romantic narrative at hand, and in this instance, that’s a given, with a great chemistry that allows for you to root for Noel and Cherie’s impending, and flourishing romance. That’s mostly down to how believable it is, a sentiment enhanced by the handheld, almost voyeuristic camera work. This also serves the comedic aspects well, as the realism extends to the awkwardness that exists, with the film coming into its element in the more uncomfortable, authentic sequences. That being said, Adams ensures that this remains a heightened take on reality, which is a real achievement for the director, to be able to maintain the naturalistic approach throughout, in spite of the overtly cinematic aspects.
It does get more surrealistic as we progress towards the latter stages, with an inclination to focus primarily on comedy. To change the tone in this manner threatens to devalue the picture, but if anything, Adams has deserved the right to take this path because of the opening act, where he’s got us onside already. Though inevitably, we do lose sight of the more intimate aspects, thankfully it’s not of great detriment to proceedings. What does remain consistent, is the affectionate conventionality of the piece, with a narrative arc that is easy to predict and yet it’s difficult not to fall for the idealism and romanticism on show, albeit somewhat cliched.
What helps matters infinitely, is the lead performance by Edwards, allowing for the audience to engross themselves in this character study. With shades of Moss from the IT Crowd, he eventually comes out of his shell, and it feels like a natural progression, which is of great commendation to the young actor. He may become more assured, yet the volatility and erratic nature of his personality remains. It may sound simple, but he seems so palpably unaware of the camera, which is an actor’s greatest skill. The only character who doesn’t quite work so well, is Noel’s therapist, Simon, played by Oliver Maltman. While the moments of light relief he brings are essential, he is the only character that feels written, and not quite authentic enough.
There’s a genial, affable tone to this charming little number, helped along by the christmas backdrop, which is subtly enforced. It’s always present, as it is that time of year, but it never feels distracting or overbearing in this instance, instead adding an enchantment to the piece, a sense where anything can happen. The film can be a little twee at times, and the music somewhat cheesy, but you’ve just got to go along with this one. Suppose in a way you could go as far calling it a hipster rom-com, and while this may very well be a truly accomplished offering, let’s hope that doesn’t become a ‘thing’.