After seeing the gritty but flawed British film ‘The Scouting Book for Boys’, Reviewed here, I was looking forward to witnessing another British film in ‘My Last Five Girlfriends’ and hoped for another example of what British Cinema has to offer. Unfortunately it turned out to be a flat, underwhelming Rom-Com but something that would have definitely worked as a TV series.
Taken from Alain de Botton’s book ‘Essays On Love’ and made for the screen by Director Julian Kemp, the film introduces us to impending suicider Duncan (Brendan Patricks) who narrates and carries us through his story of looking back at his Last Five Girlfriends to try and understand what went wrong with each one. We venture through an abundance of flashy filming techniques and visual relationship metaphors in a fantasy dream like imaginary world learning of each girlfriend on the list, their plus and minus points and what caused it to fail.
There is stop motion animation using Barbie dolls, A theme park used to represent each girlfriend as a ride through his life, annoying ironic freeze-frames and crazy edits that make it all a bit gimmicky and lacking any real heart but don’t get me wrong as Rom-Com’s go this is pretty fresh and original stuff and more watchable than Leap Year or Valentines Day and worth your time but I could never get over the feeling I was watching a special extra long episode of a TV show rather than a film.
Newcomer Brendan Patricks does a reasonable job carrying the film in a Hugh Grant-esque performance blabbering away randomly at times and Naomie Harris (mediocre at the best of times) as girlfriend No.5 Gemma is easily the only girlfriend of the five you will remember as the others offer nothing except amusing relationship quips and are completely one dimensional in character.
The story has a similar feel to the excellent 500 Days of Summer which worked fantastically well as it focused on just one girl and was very funny. My Last Five Girlfriends doesn’t work in the way it’s trying too, It wasn’t very funny as a lot of jokes fell flat, in-fact it had about two moments that made me chuckle and as the film seemed to focus all its energy and attention on the Gemma character giving her the only role with any substance or real personality all the other girlfriends took a back seat giving little or no emotional impact to the heart break Duncan was feeling so left little to care about Duncan’s psychological state.
When the best part of the film was a cameo by British Icon Johnny Ball explaining the science and statistics of a particular thing Duncan says then the film is definitely lacking something making it appeal to a wider audience which will effect the success of the film even though there’s a random cameo by Britain’s currently most used actor Michael Sheen as an interrogating American detective in another bizarre sequence that felt specifically added to include him in the billing.
Overall it’s deserving of its Rom-Com tag and will charm some into liking it, Brendan Patricks was very likable and some of the relationship quips are identifiable to anyone who’s experienced a love or a breakup. Not brilliant but a reasonable British comedy.
My Last Five Girlfriends is out Friday 19th March.