×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Edinburgh Film Review: ‘Not Another Happy Ending’

A trifling comedy about writer’s block that aims for a blend of Richard Curtis-style cheeriness and arch literary satire.

With:
Karen Gillan, Stanley Weber, Iain De Caestecker, Henry Ian Cusick, Gary Lewis, Amy Manson, Kate Dickie, Freya Mavor, John Bett, Louise Goodall.

It’s not just the protagonist who’s short of inspiration in “Not Another Happy Ending,” a trifling comedy about writer’s block that aims for a blend of Richard Curtis-style cheeriness and arch literary satire, and winds up mostly drawing a blank. An unusual Glaswegian setting and an appealing cast, led by rising star Karen Gillan as a ditzy novelist whose reluctant crush on her editor stalls the follow-up to her bestselling debut, combine to wring some charm from a lean premise that inevitably disproves its title. Commercially, however, a happy ending for this year’s Edinburgh closer may prove elusive even in Blighty.

Scottish director John McKay’s 2000 feature debut, “Crush,” a women-talking-dirty comedy starring Andie MacDowell, flopped in theaters but paved the way for a reasonably successful TV career. (His 2005 P.G. Wodehouse adaptation “Piccadilly Jim,” meanwhile, went straight to DVD.) The influence of the smallscreen is plainly evident in McKay’s third feature, from its sitcom-style scene structuring to its overreliance on pop-scored montages, which at least suggests it may play better in ancillary.

The initial appearance of Gillan’s perky Scottish writer Jane, dressed in full Annie Hall garb, suggests a quirkier comic tone than that struck shortly afterward by her goofy meet-cute with Tom (French actor Stanley Weber), a handsome, perma-stubbled independent publisher with a distractingly odd Franco-Scottish brogue. From there on, it’s standard romantic-comedy territory all the way.

Tom agrees to publish Jane’s first novel, a bleak roman a clef based on her troubled relationship with her estranged dad (Gary Lewis), which becomes an unlikely sensation. Along with alluring offers from bigger publishing houses, Jane is more intimately propositioned by oleaginous has-been screenwriter Willie (Henry Ian Cusick), who’s penning the screen adaptation. Despite no palpable chemistry, they swiftly move in together, to the obvious but strenuously denied consternation of Tom, who’s also drumming his fingers for the first draft of Jane’s sophomore effort.

Jane, meanwhile, finds herself brutally blocked at the final-chapter stage, as she figures out that handing in the manuscript will mark the end of her relationship with Tom. She also finds herself hectored by hallucinations of her chic protagonist, Darsie (Amy Manson), rather an old-hat conceit after “Ruby Sparks” took it to more fanciful extremes. It reeks faintly of misogyny that a supposedly smart, self-sufficient female author should be so crippled by her devotion to one moody Frenchman — particularly one who then embarks on a daft scheme to depress Jane into a productive creative space, on the rationale that all great art is the product of suffering.

Certainly, no one seems to have suffered much while making “Not Another Happy Ending”: Gillan and Weber have no romantic rapport onscreen, but work with bright professionalism throughout on characters who demand little of them. (“I don’t even know you,” Jane says to Tom after an early argument, speaking for the audience in the process.) Of the uniformly underwritten supporting roles, Ian De Caestecker scores most winningly as Tom’s cynical but soft-hearted roommate.

Technical package is presentable, with George Cameron Geddes’ evenly lit lensing casting Glasgow, a city that tends to lose out to Edinburgh in the cinematic-valentine stakes, in a flattering light. Cramming the soundtrack with Scottish singer-songwriters — including current global chart-topper Emeli Sande — is a sweet touch, though the songs themselves are on the twee side.

Popular on Variety

Edinburgh Film Review: 'Not Another Happy Ending'

Reviewed at Edinburgh Film Festival (Michael Powell Award competition/closer), June 24, 2013. Running time: 101 MIN.

Production: (U.K.) A British Film Co., Creative Scotland presentation of a Synchronicity Films production in association with BBC Scotland. (International sales: LevelK, Copenhagen) Produced by Claire Mundell. Executive producers, Steve Milne, Christian Eisenbeiss, Robbie Allen, Ewan Angus. Co-producer, Wendy Griffin.

Crew: Directed by John McKay. Screenplay, David Solomons. Camera (color, HD), George Cameron Geddes; editor, Calum Ross; music, Lorne Balfe; music supervisor, Adrian Burns; production designer, Andy Harris; art director, Fiona Gavin; costume designer, Louise Allen; sound, Kenny Allan; supervising sound editor, Tony Gibson; re-recording mixer, Nigel Squibbs; line producer, Wendy Griffin; assistant director, Jonathan Farmer; casting, Kelly Valentine Henry, Victor Jenkins.

With: Karen Gillan, Stanley Weber, Iain De Caestecker, Henry Ian Cusick, Gary Lewis, Amy Manson, Kate Dickie, Freya Mavor, John Bett, Louise Goodall.

More Film

  • Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS:

    Disney and Tencent to Put Out New Chinese ‘Star Wars’ Story

    Disney and China’s biggest online publisher, Tencent’s China Literature, have teamed up to develop a new Chinese “Star Wars” online novel and release 40 older e-books in Chinese for the first time. In an attempt to cultivate grass-roots enthusiasm for a franchise that has not yet managed to find a strong foothold in the world’s [...]

  • A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

    Film Review: 'A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon'

    No asteroids are hurtling toward Earth in “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon,” though a flying frozen pizza does softly slice the top off an elderly shopper’s hairdo: That’s roughly the level of quirky peril we’re talking about in the latest outing from Aardman Animations, and as usual, the British stop-motion masters cheerfully prove that [...]

  • Slam

    Film Review: ‘Slam’

    The disappearance of a fearless female Palestinian-Australian slam poet triggers suspense and powerful social and political commentary in “Slam,” an outstanding slow-burn thriller by expat Indian filmmaker Partho Sen-Gupta (“Sunrise”). Starring Palestinian actor Adam Bakri (“Omar,” “Official Secrets”) as the missing woman’s conflicted brother, and leading Aussie performer Rachael Blake as a troubled cop, Opening [...]

  • Igo Kantor

    Igo Kantor, Producer and Post-Production Executive, Dies at 89

    Igo Kantor, whose Hollywood career took him from Howard Hughes’ projection room to supervising post-production on “Easy Rider” and producing B-movies like “Kingdom of the Spiders” and “Mutant,” died Oct. 15. He was 89. Kantor, who was born in Vienna and raised in Lisbon, met “Dillinger” director Max Nosseck on the ship to New York. [...]

  • The Lion King

    Average Movie Ticket Price Falls 4% in Third Quarter of 2019

    Average ticket prices for the third quarter have dropped 4% to $8.93, down from Q2’s $9.26, the National Association of Theatre Owners announced today. However, compared with the third quarter of 2018, ticket price has risen 1.1% from $8.83. The summer box office is down 2.13% from 2018, though the third quarter box office is [...]

  • Tilda Swinton to Preside Over The

    Tilda Swinton to Preside Over Marrakech Film Festival

    Tilda Swinton, the iconoclastic British actress and producer, is set to preside over the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival, succeeding to American director James Gray. Swinton, who won an Oscar and a BAFTA award for best supporting actress for “Michael Clayton,” has been leading an eclectic acting career. She has collaborated with [...]

  • The King Netflix

    Middleburg Film Festival Brings Hollywood to Virginia

    For the last seven years, audiences have flocked to the Middleburg Film Festival. Running October 17th – 21st, and situated in the wine-country hills of historic Middleburg, Virg., the festival usually highlights some of the year’s buzziest titles, and 2019 is no exception. “We’re a smaller festival with fewer overall screenings than other events, so we [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content