Monday, 3 May 2010


Roadshow Films
Opening May 6

Romantic comedy is not the genre of choice of the Australian film industry. Comedy, yes. Rom-com, no. It is very much a Hollywood genre and I feared that Peter Helliar, best known as longtime sidekick to TV's Rove McManus, had bitten off more than he could chew with his screenwriting debut, I Love You Too, a typical rom-com other than being from the male point of view.

Jim (Brendan Cowell) and Blake (Helliar) are best buds who cruise the Melbourne night clubs in search of sexual conquests. Neither is particularly charming or attractive but Jim is usually more successful than his rotund buddy, and so it is one night when Jim spies Alice (Yvonne Stravinski). Cut to three years later, and Jim and Alice have set-up home in the “bungalow” in the backyard of what was his parents' home but now houses his sister (Bridie Carter) and her partner.

Jim and Alice seem to have the perfect relationship, everything, that is, but a ring. Alice wants marriage and children but Jim isn't even capable of uttering 'I love you'. It's not they he doesn't, it's just that he can't. The deal breaker comes when he offers Alice a commitment ring and she decides it's time she headed back to the UK.

It is in the aftermath of their break up that Jim meets Charlie (Peter Dinklage), a widower (with what must be one of the best apartments in Melbourne!) still mourning the loss of his wife. Jim decides Charlie, based on his knack for romantic letter writing, is the perfect ally in winning Alice back.

But Helliar and director Daina Reid don't go down the modern day Cyrano de Bergerac route, preferring instead to fumble towards the inevitable rom-com denouement with varying degrees of success. Subplots involving the death of Jim's parents and his sister's pregnancy seem superfluous, while the efforts of Blake to maintain his friendship with Jim provide some comedy but don't delve too deeply into the nature of mateship, which wouldn't be unwarranted given that Helliar's screenplay is written very much from the male perspective.

The film's major asset is Peter Dinklage. Australian audiences will recognise the American actor from the popular Brit film Death At A Funeral (2007) (he also appears in the upcoming US remake, reprising the same role), but he also appears in one of my favourite films of the '00s, The Station Agent (2003). He lends a much needed gravitas as well as innate comic timing to the proceedings.

And what of Megan Gale making her screen debut? Given the publicity leading up to the film's release, you'd be forgiven for thinking the model-turned-actress had a starring role. She doesn't but you can't blame the marketing team for using what they had. Gale is involved in a minor subplot with Dinklage's character and as much I would like to dump on her, she doesn't embarrass herself (not that she should be writing an Oscar speech anytime soon).

The same goes for the film. I Love You Too is a valiant attempt at a rom-com which succeeds slighlty more than it fails; a couple more rewrites would have helped Helliar's cause. It's a likeable film but it's not 'the one'.

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